KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 18 -- A total of 1,658 schools in Selangor, Penang, Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya will be closed for two days beginning tomorrow after the Air Pollutant Index (API) readings reached ‘very unhealthy’ level.
According to a statement issued by the Education Ministry, principals and headmasters can announce the closure of schools if the haze worsens by notifying the state education departments and district education offices.
It said that if the pupils or students were at the schools at the time that they were declared closed, they could continue their classes as usual until the end of the school session unless there was a request from parents to take their children home.
Teachers were also given the option to work from home if their schools were involved in the closure, the statement added.
A total of 119 schools in Kulim Bandar Baharu, Kedah, 147 schools in Larut, Matang and Selama, Perak as well as 53 schools in Nilai, Labu and Mantin in Negeri Sembilan will also be closed tomorrow after the API readings in the respective areas exceeded 200.
The National Disaster Management Agency (Nadma) in a statement today said a total of 553 schools nationwide were closed today involving 312,337 students.
The worsening haze situation has also forced six flights at the Sultan Azlan Shah Airport, Ipoh to be cancelled, affecting 1,418 passengers.
Besides that, 19 flights to and from the Penang International Airport in Bayan Lepas Penang, were also cancelled due to low visibility.
Meanwhile, Nadma said the Malaysian Meteorological Department had predicted there would be moderate to thick haze in several areas around Malaysia until Sept 19 affecting visibility in Sarawak, West Coast of Peninsular Malaysia and the East Coast of Sabah.
According to the Malaysian Air Pollution Index Management System (APIMS) portal, as of 6 pm today, nine locations recorded very unhealthy API readings namely Petaling Jaya (207), Shah Alam (216), Nilai (210), Sri Aman (228), Kuching (215) , Johan Setia Klang (258), Balik Pulau (257), Minden (230) and Kulim (206).
An API reading of between 0 and 50 is categorised as good, between 51 and 100 (moderate), between 101 and 200 (unhealthy), between 201 and 300 (very unhealthy) and more than 301 (dangerous).
Water, Land and Natural Resources Minister Dr A. Xavier Jayakumar said six hotspots had been detected in forest reserves in the Peninsula.
He said the Forestry Department of Peninsular Malaysia had detected six hot spots on Sept 17 and 18, namely three in Johor, two in Pahang and one in Terengganu.
Meanwhile, the sale of face masks in Malaysia have increased significantly as the public are taking precautionary measures, as the haze enveloping the country shows no signs of abating.
Guardian Health And Beauty Sdn Bhd marketing director for Southeast Asia DY Cho said the company recorded over a 100 per cent increase in face mask sales in the first 17 days of September compared with the whole month of August.