The Meteorological Services at the Argyle International Airport has advised that a plume of Saharan dust is approaching St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and is anticipated to begin affecting the nation from late Saturday , February 20th and intensifying early Sunday, February 21st. The maps tracking this Saharan dust plume show particle matter (PM) 2.5 and 10 respectively both indicating concentrations exceeding the accepted health level according to the Air Quality Index Chart. Based on the latest forecast, SVG will be at the Orange Level which is “unhealthy for sensitive groups” from Saturday to early Tuesday February 23rd. Gradual improvement can be expected on late Tuesday.
The Ministry of Health, Wellness and the Environment wishes to advise the general public that particles contained within the Saharan dust haze could cause the following health effects:
- a dry cough
- sore throat
- itchy, watery eyes
- runny nose
The anticipated concentrations of the Saharan dust may severely affect persons with respiratory diseases such as asthma and persons with pre-existing heart disease. The elderly and children are also vulnerable at this time. Persons with respiratory issues and allergies are asked keep with them at all times any and all medications, including asthma inhalers, in case of emergency. Persons should limit their exposure to the Saharan dust by staying indoors when possible or wearing a dust mask if they must go outdoors.
Affected persons should seek medical attention at their nearest health care center if they experience severe symptoms as a result of increasing levels of Saharan dust.