|Villagers of Rimo Kayu village in North Sumatra's Karo regency carry their belongings as they go back home after living at a temporary shelter for the last two months, as Mount Sinabung spews ash, yesterday. – Reuters pic, February 11, 2014.|
The Health Ministry today advised the public to stay indoors and shut doors and windows of their homes if ashes from the volcanic eruption of Mount Sinabung in North Sumatera are carried by winds towards Malaysia.
Health director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah also advised Malaysians to wear masks or using a cloth or a wet handkerchief as a respiratory protective device if the air is polluted.
"Children, elderly people and those who have medical problems should avoid or reduce outdoor activities during this time.
"People are also advised to drink plenty of water, frequently wash the face and other parts of the body that are exposed," he said in a statement.
He said the public should refrain from driving in ashy conditions since it may be difficult due to poor visibility and could result in accidents.
Mount Sinabung has been active since September 15. Its latest eruption started on January 30, emitting hot ash in the air at 5km high.
Although the possibility of Malaysians being exposed to the ash is low, it is likely to involve the west coast and southern part of the peninsula.
Dr Noor Hisham said those exposed to the ash will experience various eye, nose, throat and skin symptoms.
He said people usually experience eye discomfort or irritation during and after ash fall, especially those using contact lenses.
He added that the ministry will continue to monitor the situation of the volcanic dust and advise those who suffer medical illnesses related to the ash to seek medical treatment from the nearest clinic or hospital. – Bernama, February 11, 2014.