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Hospitals fill up in Delhi as ‘killer’ smog continues

New Delhi, India – Prashant Saxena, head of pulmonology and critical care at New Delhi’s posh Max hospital in south Delhi’s Saket, is a busy man.

“This smog is a silent killer. In the years to come, the severe effects of this polluted air in our bodies will reveal its deadly effects,” he told Al Jazeera.

He says there is a 20 to 25 percent increase in emergency patients and another 25 percent increase in the number of outpatients visiting him daily since a thick blanket of smog enveloped New Delhi last week.

“The situation is uncontrollable and unmanageable for us. There is shortage of beds and even medicines and devices like nebulisers,” Saxena said.

The apex body of doctors in the country, Indian Medical Association (IMA), urged people to stay indoors as it declared a public health emergency in the wake of the worst pollution in years.

New Delhi is the most polluted city in the world, and the burning of crops by farmers in the neighbouring states and industrial pollution has worsened the situation further.

PM2.5 levels rose to 703 on November 7, which was more than the double the 300 mark deemed as “hazardous”, forcing authorities to temporarily shut city schools.

Since then PM2.5, which has been linked to lung and heart diseases, has regularly remained above 500 this week. The tiny particulate matter enters into the lungs and bloodstream.

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Khwaja Yahya

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