Haze update: PSI drops to 253 at 4pm on Thursday

The Pollutant Standards Index (PSI) has dropped to 253 at 4pm on Thursday.

It soared to a record-high level of 371 at 1pm. The previous record was 226, in 1997.

Air becomes "hazardous" when the PSI breaches 300.

The Government will provide monetary assistance to Singaporeans who need help with their medical expenses should they fall ill from the haze, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announced on Thursday.

At a press conference, he revealed that the Health Ministry (MOH) will implement a special scheme where those who suffer from respiratory problems or conjunctivitis because of the haze can see their General Practitioners, pay $10, and the MOH will settle the rest of the bill.

This applies to young Singaporeans aged 18 and below, elderly Singaporeans aged 65 and above, CHAS (Community Health Assist Scheme) card holders, PA and Medical Fee Exemption Card holders.

Starting today, the Government will also hold a daily press briefing to update Singaporeans of the haze situation and recommend protective measures for the day ahead.

The National Environment Agency's chief executive Andrew Tan led a delegation to Indonesia today to an emergency haze meeting convened by the Indonesian Foreign Ministry.

Meanwhile, the National Trades Union Congress, in a statement on Thursday, once again called on all employers to take immediate and proactive measures to ensure that the health and safety of their workers. "Appropriate protective masks must be issued to workers for outdoor work and if they are unwell, they must have the right to stop work and rest indoors," said the statement.

"While no stop-work order has been issued by the relevant authorities at this point, employers should exercise discretion and flexibility where due and make necessary adjustments to their operations, especially where it involves minimising the risks posed by haze exposure to workers."

"Their health and safety are of utmost priority and management must look after their interests over business always."