11 July 2024

The Mae Chan district hospital in Thailand’s northern province of Chiang Rai is operating as normal, even though forest fires are only about 1.5 km away. An evacuation plan is in place in case of an emergency, according to Public Health Permanent Secretary Dr. Opart Karnkawinpong.

Although the fires are now under control, he said that smoke remains a pressing problem and additional air purifiers have been installed in hospital wards for the patients, while officials are on guard around the clock to monitor the situation.

Air pollution in Chiang Rai is still regarded as health threatening, with PM 2.5 levels being measured at 157 microns in Mueang district, 197 microns in Chiang Khong district and 245 microns in Mae Sai district.

88 emphysema cases, 75 cases of skin infection and 72 cases of nose and throat irritations have been treated at hospitals in the province.

Dust free rooms have been arranged at public health facilities, child development centres and local administrative organisations. Over 18,000 people have, so far, used these facilities.

Dr. Opart said that PM2.5 pollution remains excessive and above the safety level in 24 northern, north-eastern and central provinces.