An incident today involving 15 victims, including 13 pupils from two schools in Pasir Gudang, who suffered breathing difficulties and vomiting was possibly caused by toxic gas, said Health Minister Dzulkefly Ahmad.
Speaking at a press conference at his ministry in Putrajaya today, he said the Health Ministry was aware of the incident and would closely monitor the situation, adding that “everything is under control”.
“The symptoms look like a possibility of poisonous gas or one of those volatile organic compounds as the cause... just like the Sungai Kim Kim incident," he said, adding that the ministry had been in touch with Johor Health Department director Dr Selahudden Abd Aziz on the matter.
Asked if there would be any announcement on school closure, Dzulkefly said it was a bit too early to decide or say anything.
“I’m going to see the information.. kind of toxicity.. and other factors like the level of exposure and toxicity which need to be looked into.
“What is important is that the Johor Health Department is working diligently. They have been alerted and they are on the ground addressing this,” he said.
In March, the toxic pollution of Sungai Kim Kim resulted in over 4,000 people falling ill and led to the closure of 111 schools in Pasir Gudang district.
Students experiencing various symptoms
The latest incident of air pollution today was reported to have taken place during the learning session and Aidilfitri open house programme, respectively.
Sekolah Agama Taman Mawar head mistress, Rahmah Yahaya said the evening learning session at her school took place at 2.30 pm.
But not long after that, a female pupil was reported to have fainted, and this was followed by problems afflicting other pupils, mostly on the upper floor.
‘’A pupil has fainted, some had stomach aches, headache, vomited or cried after they had difficulties breathing.
‘’We quickly gathered them and contacted the ambulance, Fire and Rescue Department and other authorities,’’ she said when met by Bernama at the school in Johor Bahru today.
Meanwhile, a SK Pasir Gudang 4 pupil, Mohamad Addam Azfar Azlan, eight, said he suddenly developed headache and vomited when attending an Aidilfitri open house organised by his school at 3.30 pm.
‘’Some of my friends also vomited. I found it a bit difficult to breathe and had headache but there was no foul smell or other odour,’’ he said.
Ahmad Dhamidi Imran, eight, said that he felt nauseated and also vomited but was not sure what had caused it.
In the meantime, Mohamad Addam’s mother, Nurul Aisyah Mohd Ramli, 33, said she rushed from her work place to the school as soon as she received information about what had taken place.
‘’I was shocked and rushed here. The nurse treating my son allowed him to go home and that he be sent to a clinic or hospital if the symptoms recurred,’’ she said.
Nurul Aisyah said that she had received a message from her factory’s Whatsapp group complaining of unpleasant smells in the surrounding area and urging residents to don face and mouth masks.
‘’Some say the odours were akin to burning grass, faeces and others,’’ she said.