More kids in hospital as smog smothers Delhi

India temporarily shut five coal-fired power plants on Wednesday (November 17) to try to combat the chronic winter smog that has enveloped New Delhi.

It's threatening the lives of residents. Paediatricians at this hospital in one of the world's most polluted capitals are seeing an alarming increase in children with allergies, wheezing, respiratory and breathing issues.

And say the yearly smog poses a danger to their medium and long-term growth, both physical, and cognitive.

This is Dr Arvind Bountra of the Max Super Speciality Hospital.

"So, you know it's hit them really bad. So, the number of patients that we are getting now because of respiratory infections both in the OPD (outpatient department) or in the emergency - there has been a three to four-fold rise in their number of visits to the hospital. This is directly linked to the high levels of pollution that the city of Delhi and NCR (National Capital Region) is witnessing in the last 7 to 10 days."

The order to temporarily shut the power stations came from a panel of the federal environment ministry, which also extended the closure of schools until further notice.

Deadly pollution hits New Delhi every year, as falling temperatures trap deadly pollutants from the power stations outside it, along with fumes and burning garbage.

Levels surged to "severe" this month, with New Delhi's Air Quality Index, which measures fine particles that can get lodged in the lungs, reaching 499 on a scale of 500, indicating healthy people were also at risk of developing respiratory illnesses.

Anything above 60 is considered unhealthy.

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