The Thai Embassy in Singapore issued a travel warning yesterday suggesting that Thais avoid travelling to the island state, where smog levels hit a record high because of forest fires in neighbouring Indonesia.
The warning came as Singapore was suffering the highest levels of air pollution in 16 years.
The embassy recommended that Thais in Singapore as well as those with plans to travel there closely monitor the haze situation, which is expected to continue for the next few weeks, by visiting the website of the republic’s National Environment Agency (NEA) at nea.gov.sg.
Singapore’s smog index hit the critical 400 level yesterday, making it potentially life-threatening to the ill and elderly people, children, and pregnant women as well as those suffering from heart and lung diseases, according to the NEA. It also recommended avoiding open-air activities for extended periods and wearing an N-95 mask for any outdoor activities.
The record level was reached at 11am (10am Thailand time) after a rapid rise in the Pollutant Standards Index (PSI), which measures the haze crisis caused by Indonesian forest fires, Agence France-Presse reported.
According to Singaporean government guidelines, sustained PSI average levels above 400 on a 24-hour basis “may be life-threatening to ill and elderly persons”. If that 24-hour period is breached, the government advises all children, elderly people and persons with existing diseases to stay indoors, keep windows closed and avoid physical exertion as much as possible.
Indonesian and Singaporean officials have been holding emergency talks on how to extinguish the fires on farms and plantations on Sumatra.
Concerning Thai workers in Singapore, the embassy said it was cooperating with the local labour office to inform employers and workers about the situation. The employers have been instructed to supply masks to workers and to allow the workers to suspend their work with pay if the situation worsens.
The embassy has set up an ad hoc centre to monitor the situation. It can be contacted by phone at (+65) 8421 0105 and (+65) 8289 8934 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.