Malaysians were urged to stay indoors today as haze from burning cropland shrouded Kuala Lumpur amid a reported increase of respiratory problems.
According to satellite images, the smoke appeared to be coming from hundreds of fires in Borneo set by farmers before planting their crops.
The Star newspaper reported that more patients suffering from asthma and chronic bronchitis have been reported since early this week, when haze began shrouding the skies.
The air pollutant index in at least four areas within and around Kuala Lumpur was nearing the official level of unhealthy, while scores of others recorded a sharp dip in air quality.
Two areas in the surrounding state of Selangor recorded unhealthy pollution levels, the report said.
Deputy Health Minister Rosnah Shirlin has said her ministry would increase its monitoring of agricultural burning.