Saturday, March 14, 2015
MORE that 50 schools in the Corporate Area and St Catherine were yesterday forced to close as smog emanating from the fire at the Riverton City dump intensified.
Smoke from the fire, which started late Wednesday, also forced the closure of several businesses while several people, including dozens of children who suffered respiratory problems, had to be taken to hospitals and health centres for treatment.
"At our school we had to send out a desperate call for parents to come and pick up their children and measures had to also be put in place to rush some of the students who fell ill to nearby medical facilities," said Elyn Spence, principal of Hagley Park Preparatory School.
Several students of Holy Childhood High had to be transported from the school in buses to hospital after at least two girls collapsed and others complained of difficulty breathing.
Students from the Hydel Group of Schools in Ferry, St Catherine, also had to be taken to hospital for treatment.
Yesterday, chairman of the South East Regional Health Authority (SERHA) Dr Andrei Cooke said the authority activated its emergency operation centre after some hospitals and health centres reported an increase in the demand for services, particularly for respiratory conditions. Additional measures, he said, were being put in place to deal with the increased demands on the health services.
"In addition, some health centres will remain open over the weekend, starting 8:00 am, in anticipation of the number of persons that are likely to require urgent health-care services during this period, should the prevailing conditions continue," said the SERHA chairman.
Meanwhile, there has been a big jump in the sale of dust masks by hardware stores and street vendors as people sought to protect themselves from the heavy smoke blanketing the capital city.
"Since the start of the workday we have seen a spike in the number of customers coming in to purchase dust masks," one sales representative at Tools Hardware told the Jamaica Observer yesterday. Rapid True Value on Constant Spring Road also said it sold several dust masks.
But while there were good sales for dust masks, the Jamaica Chamber of Commerce (JCC) reported that companies were forced to close their business for the day due to the smoke nuisance.
"A number of businesses experienced loss of productivity due to staff members leaving to attend to their health, while some persons had to leave their jobs to attend to their children due to school closures and health challenges," a JCC release said.
The chamber said smoke covered a wide area of Kingston and St Andrew, extending as far as Portmore, St Catherine and St Thomas.
The JCC also said hotels reported that guests complained about the polluted air and, in one case, visitors left their hotel to get relief in the Blue Mountains. According to the JCC, those visitors said that they would cut their vacation short and return to the United Kingdom.
See full article here: http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Riverton-fire-causes-havoc_18567911