SINGAPORE: After days of battling haze conditions, Singaporeans can breathe a sigh of relief as the National Environment Agency (NEA) predicts an improvement in the air quality on Monday (9 Oct). The favourable wind direction, reduced fire points in neighbouring Sumatra, and expected rainfall have contributed to this positive outlook.

The NEA released the latest Pollutant Standards Index (PSI) data on Sunday night, indicating that the 24-hour PSI is expected to remain at moderate levels on Monday. As of 9pm on Sunday, the national 24-hour PSI ranged from 54 to 76, with the east and centre regions recording 76 and 75, the south at 67, and the north and west at 55 and 54, respectively.

Meteorological satellite monitoring shows that the fire spots in Indonesia, which have been the primary cause of the cross-border haze, are now concentrated mainly in central and southern Sumatra. There were 68 fire points on Sunday, a significant decrease from the 188 fire points observed the day before and the 212 fire points recorded on Friday, October 6th.

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The NEA has also indicated that much of Singapore and surrounding areas will remain dry. However, moderate to thick haze in central and southern Sumatra is expected to be alleviated by the predicted rainfall.

Saturday (7 Oct) marked the first time in four years that Singapore entered the “unhealthy” PSI range after surpassing a PSI level of 100.

In response to the deteriorating air quality, the inter-agency haze action group led by the NEA was officially activated. The Ministry of Education issued guidelines to parents on Sunday, advising them on actions to take during hazardous haze conditions, including using indoor air purifiers to ensure that students taking national examinations can proceed without disruptions.

Singaporeans have responded to the improved air quality with cautious optimism. While some have resumed outdoor activities, others with pre-existing health conditions have chosen to stay indoors or reduce their time outdoors.

Sales of air purifiers and masks have also surged, with several electrical appliance stores reporting a 10% increase in air purifier sales over the past weekend.

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Singapore has a history of facing severe haze episodes, with the worst recorded on Sept 24, 2015, when the 24-hour PSI exceeded 300, reaching the “dangerous” level. In response, the Ministry of Education announced the nationwide closure of primary and secondary schools to safeguard the health of students and residents.

As Singapore continues to monitor and manage the haze situation, residents are advised to stay updated with the latest information from the NEA and take necessary precautions to safeguard their health during periods of poor air quality.