The Delhi government issued a health advisory on Sunday in view of the severe air pollution in the city and asked people to avoid outdoor activities as much as possible, especially during the morning and late evening hours.
In a statement, Delhi Health Minister Satyendar Jain said the air pollution had reached the severe level and asked people to follow the dos and don'ts as mentioned in the advisory.
The advisory said the air pollution might cause respiratory problems in healthy people on a prolonged exposure and pronounced respiratory or other serious illnesses for the vulnerable population even on a short exposure.
"The general public is, therefore, advised to avoid outdoor physical activities, especially during morning and late evening hours," it stated.
The vulnerable population was advised to strictly avoid outdoor activities, remain indoors and keep activity levels low.
The vulnerable population comprises elderly people, children aged below five years, pregnant women and those with a poor nutritional status.
Traffic police personnel, rickshaw-pullers and roadside vendors were advised to take extra precautions.
The dos and don'ts asked people to remain indoors and reschedule their outdoor activities, consult doctors in case of breathlessness, giddiness, cough, chest discomfort or pain and irritation in the eyes.
Using N95 masks, avoiding heavy traffic and polluted areas, keeping doors and windows closed in the morning and late evening were also advised by the government.
It also asked people to use public transport, avoid driving two-wheelers and other vehicles, and stop smoking.
Cabinet secy to monitor pollution situation in Delhi-NCR daily
Cabinet Secretary Rajiv Gauba will monitor the alarming pollution situation in Delhi and neighbouring states on a daily basis, it was decided at a high-level meeting chaired by the principal secretary to the prime minister on Sunday.
P K Mishra, the principal secretary to the prime minister, reviewed the situation arising out of severe air pollution in the National Capital Region, and other parts of north India.
Senior officials from the states of Punjab, Haryana and Delhi joined the meeting through video-conferencing, according to a statement.
"The cabinet secretary will monitor the situation with these states on a daily basis," it said.
The chief secretaries of these states have been asked to monitor the situation in various districts of their respective states round-the-clock.
Schools in Haryana, UP districts shut
The Haryana government on Sunday ordered closure of all schools in Gurugram and Faridabad districts on November 4 and 5 amid the smog enveloping major parts of the national capital region.
The schools in Gurgaon and Faridabad districts will stay shut on November 4 and 5 owing to the air pollution in the two districts, a state government spokesperson said.
The timing for the schools in Sirsa districts too have been changed and they would hold classes between 10 am and 3 pm till November 6, he said.
The state government has also asked deputy commissioners of other districts in the NCR region to keep monitoring the pollution level in their respective areas and 'take appropriate calls' on closing schools for students up to class 12 or change their school timing in the interest of children's health, the spokesperson added.
The state government issued the directive amid a blanket of smog engulfing several districts of an agrarian Haryana, partly due to stubble burning by its own farmers as well as those in Punjab.
Various districts of the state have reported air quality index in the 'severe' and 'very poor' category.
In Uttar Pradesh too, all government and private schools up till Class 12 Ghaziabad, Noida and Greater Noida will remain closed on November 4 and 5.
The administrations of Gautam Buddh Nagar and Ghaziabad said the decision has been taken as the levels of particulate matter 2.5 and 10 have been excessive in the air since Diwali, resulting in a major dip in the overall air quality.
"Transport vehicles like buses and minibuses, which a lot of schools use to ferry children, are a major contributor of PM 2.5 and PM 10.
"The movement of such vehicles in the city now could aggravate the situation," District Magistrate B N Singh said in a written order.
"Hence, it is ordered that all schools up till Class 12 in Gautam Buddh Nagar will remain closed on November 4 and 5," he added.
A similar order was passed by Ghaziabad District Magistrate Ajay Shankar Pandey, noting that the pollution was impacting the health of children.
At 10.35 am on Sunday, the air quality index (AQI) of Noida was 487, while that of Greater Noida was 470, both in the 'severe' category, which means it affects healthy people and seriously impacts those with existing diseases.
At 1.35 pm, the AQI in Ghaziabad's Indirapuram was recorded at 492 and in Raj Nagar at 480, according to Central Pollution Control Board data.
A Supreme Court-mandated panel had on Friday declared public health emergency in Delhi-NCR and banned all construction works, bursting of firecrackers, among others, in the region to tackle the critical situation.