The Delhi government has directed all schools in Delhi to suspend outdoor activities till severe pollution condition persists. A Directorate of Education letter, issued to heads of government, government-aided and unaided recognised schools, asked them to sensitise parents of the students about the "worrisome air quality situation prevailing in and across Delhi". "Outdoor activities and exposure in the polluted atmosphere could have long-term detrimental effects on the health of children. All heads of government, as well as private schools, are directed to ensure no outdoor activities are organised in schools till severe pollution condition persists," the DoE said. The Delhi government will also start distributing masks in government and private schools from Friday.
Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia has also said the government might consider shutting the schools if the situation worsened. Following a spike in the pollution level, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal had announced on Wednesday the UT government would start distributing masks among school students from November 1. "Fifty lakh N95 masks would be given to students in both government and private schools in Delhi. A mask kit having two pieces of N95, one of the good quality masks for tackling smog, will be given to students. Masks will be distributed for one week," he said.
The skies over the national capital remained smoky grey on Thursday as the sun struggled to shine through the haze with the air quality continuing to be in the "severe" category in the city and the adjoining areas. An Air Quality Index (AQI) between 401-500 falls in the "severe" category and anything beyond that is "severe-plus emergency". The AQI takes into account five chief pollutants, including the PM10 and PM2.5. The higher the AQI value, the greater the health concern.
With pollution level continuing in the 'severe' category in Delhi, doctors have advised people to take a lot of precautions, including wearing face masks and avoiding early morning and late evening walks as the concentration of pollutants is highest during this period.
The Ministry of Earth Sciences' air quality forecast and research service, SAFAR (System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting and Research) on Thursday issued an advisory for people and asked them to avoid all physical activity outdoors. "Give a miss to walk today and stop any activity level if you experience any unusual coughing, chest discomfort, wheezing, breathing difficulty, or fatigue and consult a doctor. If the room has windows, close them," read the advisory. Masks known as N95 or P-100 respirators may only help if you go out, it said, adding that do not rely on dust masks for protection.
Edited by Manoj Sharma with PTI inputs