On Wednesday, April 8, smoky conditions and high air pollution levels have been reported in northern Laos due to ongoing forest fires in the region. According to local authorities, forest fires have been reported in Oudomxay, Luang Namtha, Luang Prabang, and Phongsaly provinces. However, local agencies have not issued any health notices on the concentration of PM2.5 fine dust particles in the air. Over 18,000 hectares (44,479 acres) of land has been burned by the fires so far, which have been ongoing since mid-March. Local media reported that authorities and volunteers are currently fighting the blazes, but are facing challenges due to a lack of equipment and difficulty accessing fires in remote areas.
Further spread of fires is possible in the near term. A heightened security presence, road closures, and power outages are to be expected in the vicinity of any forest fires.
Individuals in affected areas are advised to monitor the situation, watch for updates and health advisories issued by authorities, limit outdoor activities until the situation normalizes, or wear N95 rated masks as a protection. Children and those with chronic respiratory illnesses should exercise increased caution. Individuals are advised to seek medical attention if experiencing breathing difficulties or other health concerns.