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Haze update: Haze taskforce convened as PSI soared to record level

Published on Jun 20, 2013 12:13 AM
 
Taken at 10.33pm at the Promontory@Marina Bay on June 19, 2013. The Manpower Ministry may issue stop-work order and the Education Ministry would have to decide whether to close schools if the haze situation persists, said Environment and Water Resources Minister Vivian Balakrishnan. -- ST PHOTO: JOYCE FANG

The Manpower Ministry may issue stop-work order and the Education Ministry would have to decide whether to close schools if the haze situation worsens, said Environment and Water Resources Minister Vivian Balakrishnan.

The Government has also convened a taskforce, comprising 23 agencies, to deal with the situation and draw up contingency plans, he said at a press conference on Wednesday night. The Health Ministry has alerted hospitals to cope with potential increase in patients who may developed haze-related health problems.

He was speaking after the Pollutant Standards Index (PSI) soared to 321 at 10pm, far exceeding the previous worst reading of 226 in 1997.

Describing it as an unprecedented situation, Mr Balakrishnan said the authorities here had expected the haze situation to worsen overnight, with 173 hotspots detected on Wednesday. Dry weather conditions and prevailing winds blowing haze into Singapore are expected to persist for next few days, he told reporters.

Conditions are not suitable for cloud seeding now, but the ministry will keep the option open, he said.

The National Environment Agency (NEA) will send a delegation to Indonesia on Thursday to discuss concrete steps to take.

"The key message for tonight is that we have to change our daily routine in the short term," he said.

Air becomes "hazardous" when the index crosses 300.

Children, the elderly and people with existing diseases should stay indoors, keep windows and doors closed and avoid physical exertion if the PSI crosses 300, according to the NEA's health advisory. Everyone else should also avoid all unnecessary outdoor activity.

 

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