Pakistan's Punjab govt orders closure of education institutions for 3 days to mitigate impact of smog

Pakistan's Punjab govt orders closure of education institutions for 3 days to mitigate impact of smog

Lahore, Nov 23 (PTI) Pakistan's Punjab government on Thursday announced the closure of all educational institut­ions and imposed a smart lockdown in the provincial capital Lahore and five other districts for three days from November 24 to mitigate the impact of smog.

The government's decision came after Lahore recorded a maximum Air Quality Index (AQI) of over 500 on Thursday.

An AQI above 100 is considered unhealthy, above 150 is very unhealthy, and an AQI beyond that is termed hazardous.

Addressing a press conference, Punjab caretaker chief minister Mohsin Naqvi said, 'The government has imposed a smart lockdown in Lahore and other five districts -- Multan, Faisalabad, Sahiwal, Gujranwala and Sargodha -- of Punjab for Friday, Saturday and Sunday (November 24 to 26) where all educational institutions will also remain closed on these days as part of the measures to control smog.' No markets and business centres would be allowed to open before 3 pm on Friday and Saturday, while all markers and business centres will be closed on Sunday, he said.

The chief minister also said that the government is working on conducting artificial rain on November 29 if there are clouds over Lahore.

The caretaker government also announced the provision of electric bikes to 10,000 students and government employees on subsidy to promote cycling at a time when smog is affecting the lives of 130 million people in the province.

The government also announced a mask-wearing mandate in 10 affected districts of the province because of the worsening air quality.

The hazardous smog is causing health issues like coughing, breathing difficulties, eye irritation, and skin infections among the province's residents, especially in Lahore.

'High levels of air quality due to smog pose a serious and imminent threat to public health in all age groups. Hence, it is mandatory to take all possible safety measures, including wearing masks, for prevention and control of airborne diseases in the province of Punjab,” a government notification says. PTI MZ GRS AKJ GRS GRS

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