The smoky haze that is causing health problems and hurting outdoor-related businesses in Singapore is likely to remain until late November, meteorologists said Sunday.
The prolonged pall that has enveloped Southeast Asia since last month is now expected to dissipate when the northeast monsoon douses the fires raging in Indonesia's Kalimantan and Sumatra, far later than the original October prediction.
Experts said intermittent showers are unlikely to do more than bring temporary relief to the city-state where the Pollutant Standards Index (PSI) climbed to an unhealthy 103 Saturday, fell back to a moderate 65 during the night but started rising again Sunday.
The health ministry reported the number of people who visited polyclinics because of haze-related conditions was up by 600 during the first week of this month, compared to the same period last month.
'Cut back on outdoor activities and install air filters at home,' environment officials are repeatedly advising.
Managers of restaurants and operators of sightseeing tours have been reporting losses ranging between 10 to 50 percent since the haze started keeping people indoors.
Tourists have been particularly outspoken. 'I told my friends I would be lazing out by the pool sunbathing. I have been here nine days and I have not seen an hour of sun,' James Hosking, a British business development manager told The Sunday Times.
The intangible benefits of clean air cannot be underestimated, said Geh MAin, president of Singapore's Nature Society.
She said a regular problem like the current one will result in a tourism slump at this time of the year.