Face masks made mandatory in smog-hit Punjab

Provincial govt notifies week-long policy in 10 districts including Lahore, Gujranwala, Sialkot

According to the notification, the order is to be implemented in Lahore, Nankana Sahib, Sheikhupura, Kasur, Gujranwala, Gujrat, Narowal, Hafizabad, Sialkot and Mandi Bahauddin from November 20 till November 26.

“The Punjab Government announces a 1-week mandate for wearing of face masks for all citizens in smog-affected districts of Punjab. Prioritising health is our collective responsibility. Please adhere to the guidelines for a safer community,” wrote Naqvi.
The notification stated that measure has been taken to prevent and control airborne diseases in the province.

The poor air quality due to the heavy smog has become a “serious and imminent threat to the public health in all groups,” it added.
The air pollution rate in the provincial capital has reached alarming levels making Lahore one of the world’s most polluted cities.Earlier this month, the city witnessed at least 500 people falling sick due to toxic smog and being admitted to emergency wards of various local hospitals within 24 hours.

Meanwhile, the Lahore High Court issued directives for stringent measures to be implemented to counter challenges presented by the smog. The court dismissed the Punjab environment director-general from his post for his failure to ensure the same.
A smart lockdown had earlier been imposed in the province among other measures to mitigate air pollution.

On Sunday, Lahore registered an Air Quality Index (AQI) of 203, classifying it as unhealthy. The primary pollutant was PM2.5, a fine particulate matter capable of entering the lungs and bloodstream, leading to significant health concerns.
Despite implementing these measures, the persistence of smog in Lahore and neighbouring districts remains evident, showing limited impact on air quality.

Its consequences extend beyond reduced visibility and increased traffic accidents. Smog poses severe health risks to inhabitants, particularly those with respiratory or cardiovascular conditions, children, the elderly, and pregnant women. Symptoms of smog exposure encompass coughing, wheezing, chest pain, eye irritation, headaches, nausea, and fatigue.

Experts have strongly urged citizens to adopt precautionary measures to shield themselves from smog’s harmful effects. Recommendations include wearing masks, using air purifiers, minimising outdoor activities—especially during peak pollution hours—and seeking medical assistance if experiencing any discomfort.

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