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More 300,000 Indonesians down with respiratory illnesses as haze stays


Indonesia’s Health Ministry on Tuesday said over 307,000 Indonesians have been recorded suffering from respiratory illnesses since the dry season started in June in the country.

Indonesian Health Minister Nila Moeloek disclosed that the figure of recorded respiratory patients jumped by around 20 per cent since the start of the fire in Sumatra and Borneo islands in September.

Moeloek said it had pushed the government to take greater measures to terminate the regular problem in the country.

“The number of those suffering from acute respiratory problem has steeply hiked by 15 to 20 per cent since three weeks ago,” she said at the health ministry.

South Sumatra, which has more population than other five Indonesian provinces affected by the haze, recorded the largest number of patients, which stood at 83,276.

Combined, the six haze-affected provinces recorded a whopping 307,360 cases as at Monday.

Moeloek said that the ministry had sent tons of medicines and thousands of masks to haze-affected areas in Sumatra and Borneo Islands.

The minister said that the ministry would continuously take measure to minimise the risk of haze on human health.

The government has conducted the biggest air operation, involving helicopters, planes and thousands of soldiers, to stop forest fire that has spread haze to Singapore and Malaysia.

However, dry weather, the vastness of affected territories and lack of water have hampered the operation.

The government has frozen and revoked four plantation firms for their involvement in forest fires.
President Joko Widodo has ordered to conduct operation for re-wetting of peat land to stop the fires into the soil.

Companies would be required to set up damps at peat land areas to supply water needed when fires occur.

Report says Indonesia has been battered by such forest fires since the 1990s, as the ensuing haze envelops neighbouring ASIAN countries and causes losses of billions of dollars.

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