People in Bangkok are advised to work from home and wear face masks because of the air pollution that has worsened to unhealthy levels.
Officials urged people to use public transport rather than private cars for commuting, and said the authorities would try to reduce pollution such as outdoor burning and construction activities. The faces masks would also be distributed to vulnerable people, the Bangkok authorities said.
The Bangkok governor, Chadchart Sittipunt, said pollution was expected to rise on Thursday but it did not require schools to be closed. I would like to ask people to be prepared by checking the pollution level before planning a trip. The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration and the pollution department will control the sources of the dust and ask for cooperation from activities that generate dust such as construction sites or truck transportation. He added that limitations on transport would be considered if the situation worsened.
Agricultural burning and forest fires are a major cause of air pollution in Thailand during the months of December to April, especially in the north-west. Bangkok, already struggling with bad air due to its factories and construction, is affected by the pollution from these fires.
On Thursday morning, PM 2.5 levels reached 63.2 g m micrograms per cubic metre, according to Swiss air quality company IQAir, which is higher than the WHO annual air quality guideline of 5 g m Areas of Samut Songkhram, south-west of Bangkok and Lampang, ranked worst in Thailand.
Dr Opas Karnkawinpong, permanent secretary of health ministry, said this week that all provincial public health services would monitor the situation and that emergency centres would be opened in provinces with high pollution levels for more than three consecutive days.
The number of patients with pollution-related health problems has doubled this week to nearly 213,000 from 96,000 last week, Opas said. Most of the people had respiratory tract problems as well as symptoms such as dermatitis or eye inflammation.
Chadchart said the situation would be monitored closely throughout February but was expected to be better in March.