JOHOR BARU (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - The haze has come at a bad time for Johor with health officials here already having their hands full fighting a sharp increase in dengue cases.
State Health and Environment Committee chairman Datuk Ayub Rahmat said many officials from other districts have had to come to help in the fight against dengue, conducting spot checks at residential and business premises.
"What we are worried about is the number of patients who will be warded in various government hospitals in Johor, either due to dengue, respiratory-related illnesses or other type of sickness," he said.
"We have enough manpower and medicine but it is the number of available beds in hospital wards that we are concerned about," he added, noting that Johor has about 3,812 beds from 12 government-run hospitals.
Speaking to reporters at the closing ceremony of the "Say No to Obesity" programme in Johor Baru on Monday (Sept 28), he said the haze had caused a deterioration in air quality for almost two months now and there were 19,655 respiratory-related cases recorded during the first two weeks of the month.
Ayub also said that the state government would set up four additional haze detectors in Batu Pahat, Segamat, Pontian and Pengerang next year.
"We already have four such detectors in Johor Baru, Muar, Kota Tinggi and Pasir Gudang," he said.
On the dengue situation, he said that in the first nine months of the year, 10,660 dengue cases were reported in Johor with 32 deaths -an increase of 163 per cent compared to the same period last year.