DOCTORS have seen an ‘exponential increase’ in the number of people admitted to hospital in Almeria after a thick blanket of dust from the Tabernas Desert arrived in the city.
The coastal city has turned a yellowish hue after southern winds transferred the dust from the Tabernas Desert, located 30km north of the city.
The Torrecardenas University Hospital in Almeria confirmed on Tuesday that they have seen a spike in the number of patients with ‘respiratory distress’ due to the ‘extremely unfavourable’ quality of air in the city.
Head of Algeria’s Emergency Services Antonio Duarte said that since thick plumes of dust arrived in the city in the early hours of Tuesday morning they have received dozens of calls from ‘asthmatic patients suffering from an increased sensation of choking’.
Duarte said that ‘many patients’ who attended the emergency rooms said they were struggling to breathe after going outside to exercise.
He said: “They have had to stop the activity due to difficulty inhaling air.
He added: “I would ask that those with respiratory conditions always have the inhaler at hand and if in any doubt, consult your doctor.
“I would highly recommend not to do outdoor activities and avoid going out as much as possible.”
He also advised the people of Almeria to wear an FPP2 mask outdoors and ‘avoid areas with air currents, where suspended dust is even worse’.
According to the records of the Air Quality Index of the Ministry of Ecological Transition (Miteco), the Almeria station has detected an ‘extremely unfavorable’ air quality since 11am on Tuesday due to the levels of PM2.5.
We previously reported that the city is covered in thick plumes of dust which has delayed transport and forced asthmatics to stay inside.
Forecasters have warned motorists to take extra care on the road as the smoke is expected to last well into Friday morning.
The mayor of Almeria Ramon Fernandez-Pacheco has urged residents to adopt ‘self-protection’ measures, adding that locals should ‘follow the recommendations’ given by Civil Protection.
Fernandez-Pacheco took to Twitter to warn people of the high levels of dust and suspended particles that have ‘stained the city orange’.
He advised that locals should leave their homes ’as little as possible’ and travel ‘only if necessary’.
“Reduce you speed when driving through the dust and be careful as visibility is extremely poor.’
The mayor also urged locals to wear a mask to ‘help reduce the irritation caused by the haze’.
The Civil Protection added that it is necessary ‘to avoid doing sports, exercise and physical activities that take place outside’ and warned residents to keep exterior doors and windows of the home closed.
They also advise that vulnerable people such as children, the elderly and people with respiratory problems should take care to stay hydrated since the dust ‘dries out’ the lungs.