Singapore

One-room flat residents badly hit by the haze

Residents of one-room rental flats in Mei Ling Street and Casa Clementi are badly hit by the weather conditions

With four people crammed in a one-room rental flat, Mr Thiagarajan's family used three small fans to make sure it did not get too stuffy.

But with the haze hitting unhealthy levels this month, they recently bought another two fans so that they can breathe easier.

Mr Thiagarajan, a 27-year-old nightclub supervisor, told The New Paper: "The haze makes it hard to breathe. My family is very irritated because we have had no choice but to close the window."

But closing the window also makes it hotter indoors.

"It's hotter than usual, so we now have five fans ," said Mr Thiagarajan, who lives with his parents and brother.

Speaking from his family's 10th floor unit at Mei Ling Street, Mr Thiagarajan said one fan costs around $30 to $40.

"But even with the fans, it's still quite stuffy. From 6pm to 7pm, the place is like a sauna so we have to open the door for fresh air," he said.

Mr Thiagarajan's family was one of 18 families The New Paper team spoke to who live in one-room rental flats and are more affected by the haze than well-to-do Singaporeans who live in air-conditioned homes.

The haze is taking a toll on the health of Mr Thiagarajan's family, with one brother resting at home on three days' medical leave and the rest of the family having difficulty breathing.

"My brother is sick with a throat infection and fever. The doctor told us it's because of the haze," said Mr Thiagarajan of his brother, port worker Dayalan, 25.

Mr Dayalan lay smothered in blankets on a bed in a corner of the stuffy unit and was in no condition to talk.

FALLING SICK

"I'm falling sick as well. It's very hard to breathe for all of us," said Mr Thiagarajan.

Aside from installing more fans and buying N95 masks, the family's daily routine has changed.

When he returns from work in the morning, Mr Thiagarajan goes to the market to buy groceries for his 47-year-old mother, housewife Madam Chandra.

Another Mei Ling Street resident, Mr Yahya Abdul Kader, 48, was on medical leave last week.

He lives in the same block with his 85-year-old mother, Madam Monah Selamat, and has been to a nearby clinic thrice with his mother.

Coughing, the store manager said: "After the first week of the haze, my mother had breathing difficulties and she gets headaches.

"I've also been coughing through the night and had to take three days' medical leave."

Mr Yahya has bought some N95 masks and kept all his windows shut.

"I am the only breadwinner so we don't want to incur extra electricity costs from installing an air-conditioner," said Mr Yahya,

"We have had to turn the fan on for 24 hours, previously we only turned it on at night. It's very stuffy."

Another resident, Mr Mohd Taufiq, 28, living at Block 419, Casa Clementi, has been experiencing minor chest pains. .

The technician collected two N95 masks from the Residents' Committee (RC) for himself and his 62-year-old mother who lives with him.

CHEST PAINS

"Visually, it's worse than in 2013. In 2013, I didn't wear a mask because I didn't feel affected by the haze," he said.

Mr Taufiq now sees to his family's daily marketing needs as his mother has been complaining of chest pains and breathing difficulties.

"I've no choice," he said with a laugh.

Housewife Madam Chitra, 48, wraps a shawl around her face so she can save the surgical masks that her husband, Mr Mogan, a security guard, bought.

She lives in a one-room rental flat in Casa Clementi with him and their 10-year-old son.

"I feel very sweaty and my mouth gets dry easily," she said.

A Casa Clementi resident in her 60s, who wanted to be known only as Madam Tan, said in Mandarin that she would rather stay at home than go out to collect the free N95 masks from the community centre (CC).

"The CC is too far. It's about two to three bus stops away,"

Madam Tan, who lives alone, added: "My friend told me that the queue to collect the masks is very long.

"When I need to go to the market to buy food, then I'll plan on going out."

Lions Befrienders volunteers have been distributing masks to the elderly at their centres around Singapore. (See report, right.)

Dr Chey Chor Khoon, 67, executive director of Lions Befrienders, said: "Our senior activities centre is still open for old folks, and we distribute masks which are given by the Government to the elderly who visit all our centres around Singapore.

"We encourage the elderly to go to our centres because there is air-conditioning there."

Air quality likely to be unhealthy again today

The 24-hour Pollutant Standards Index (PSI) is expected to be at the high-end of the Unhealthy range and low-end of the Very Unhealthy range today, The National Environment Agency (NEA) said last night.

It issued an advisory cautioning against prolonged or strenuous activity.

Children, pregnant women and the elderly should minimise outdoor activity, while those with chronic lung or heart disease should avoid outdoor activities entirely, NEA said in its statement.

Air quality deteriorated to very unhealthy levels yesterday because of the haze, with the 24-hour PSI between 163 and 202 at 11pm.

The three-hour PSI, unrelated to the advisory, registered 140 at midnight.

MUSIC FEST CANCELLED

Due to the worsening haze situation, the music festival Spring Wave 2015, planned for Fort Canning Green on Oct 10, has been cancelled.

HazeUncategorisedMei Ling StreetIllness