Health officials warn vs. haze in southern Mindanao

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A haze is made up of fine dusk, smoke or light vapor — causing lack of transparency in the air.

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — Local health officials in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) advised the public on Friday (October 23) to stay indoors as much as possible to avoid suffering from respiratory diseases due to a haze now covering most of southern Mindanao.

"Don't underestimate the ill effects of haze. It's worsening the already compromised quality of air that we breathe imposing health risks to everybody," Dr. Kadil Sinolinding Jr., regional secretary for Department of Health (DOH-ARMM) said.

Sinolinding said the haze, which engulfed most parts of Mindanao and forced cancellation of airline travel to and from major cities to Manila, was made up of fine dusk, smoke, or light vapor — causing lack of transparency in the air.

The haze has been in Mindanao skies since October 17, brought by winds from vast forest fires in Indonesia.

"The haze aggravates the quality of the air that we breathe and some people may experience the following signs and symptoms, namely eye irritation, itchy and runny nose, sneezing, dry throat and coughs," Sinolinding said.

"We advised the people to take adequate amount of water, drink cough preparations if cough is manifested, over-the-counter antihistamines for allergic reaction or upon the advice of a physician."

Meanwhile, Philippine Airlines and Cebu Pacific flights to Cotabato from Manila remained cancelled, according to Charlene Jamero of the weather bureau PAGASA.

Air travel to and from the Cotabato airport had been suspended for a week since the haze.

"The haze is thicker now so we maintain our no-takeoff, no-landing policy," Jamero said.