Friday, June 12, 2009

Hazy Days Again / A(H1N1) Pandemic Status

The rain yesterday did not help to clear the haze and today, air quality has deteriorated with Port Klang the first in the country to record unhealthy air quality from a moderate 82 API reading to 125.

The main cause of this deteriorating air quality is ground level ozone, a condition where abnormally high concentrations of chemical processes brought about by human activities cause smog, activities of which include the release of volatile organic compounds from exhausts of motorised vehicles and industries.

Below is a comparison of the same place, Klang, showing the difference in air quality yesterday compared with Wednesday (top).

Source: The Star

And this was taken on the MRR2 (Middle Ring Road 2) overlooking Taman Melawati with the hills in the background shrouded in haze.

Hazy days can mean eye-irritation for some people. Unfortunately, we also have to contend with the A(H1N1) flu virus though Malaysia has it pretty well contained as of now. The World Health Organization has raised the alert to the maximum pandemic status. According to the Director General of WHO, Dr Margaret Chan, a characteristic feature of pandemics is their rapid spread to all parts of the world. Indeed, there have been cases in the US, Chile (South America, the UK, Japan and Australia and others. There are nearly 30,000 confirmed cases reported in 74 countries.

Let me share some points from the Director-General's speech announcing the pandemic status:

In late April, WHO announced the emergence of a novel influenza A virus.

This particular H1N1 strain has not circulated previously in humans. The virus is entirely new.

The virus is contagious, spreading easily from one person to another, and from one country to another. As of today, nearly 30,000 confirmed cases have been reported in 74 countries.

This is only part of the picture. With few exceptions, countries with large numbers of cases are those with good surveillance and testing procedures in place.

Spread in several countries can no longer be traced to clearly-defined chains of human-to-human transmission. Further spread is considered inevitable.

The world is now at the start of the 2009 influenza pandemic.

We are in the earliest days of the pandemic. The virus is spreading under a close and careful watch.

WHO continues to recommend no restrictions on travel and no border closures.

Influenza pandemics, whether moderate or severe, are remarkable events because of the almost universal susceptibility of the world’s population to infection.

We are all in this together, and we will all get through this, together.

If you are interested, here is the speech in its entirety.


  1. Weather forecast says it will rain today (Friday). Hopefully it does. Helps to clear the sky...

  2. I hope it will rain today! Pls rain come down now, we can play outside another day!

  3. Hopefully it rains in Malacca too. But...I hope more will stop open burning. Damn...they just won't learn huh!

  4. KS, the weather forecast may be right. I hear thunder and the sky is getting very dark outside now.

    Foong, fingers crossed.

    Tekkaus, *sigh* land-clearing and open-burning are activities smallholders do in preparation for the new planting season. The way I see it, governments need to step in with alternative methods. However, peat fires are not within anyone's control. We can only blame it on the hot weather. Part of the smog is also caused by ourselves - industries and vehicles. It's a vicious cycle.

  5. Anonymous7:28 PM

    yeah its getting hazier these days.. sighs.. =(

  6. Ken, looks good today though.