Buildings shrouded in smog as schools in and around Mexico City were ordered to be closed. Luis Cortes/Reuters
Mexico’s government ordered schools in and around Mexico City to be closed on Thursday in an extraordinary step taken due to elevated levels of pollution in the smog-wreathed capital.
The education ministry said in a statement on Wednesday that the measure applies to public and private schools in the Mexico City metropolitan area, which is home to well over 20 million people. It recommended that children avoid exercise, remain indoors and avoid using contact lenses.
Two of the city’s principal seats of higher learning, the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) and the National Polytechnic Institute, also said they would suspend classes in the metropolitan area on Thursday due to the pollution.
On Tuesday the city’s authorities declared an environmental emergency. They have come under pressure to act due to reduced visibility caused by smoke and ash in the air during an extended dry spell.
President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador addressed the problem in a news conference on Wednesday, calling the pollution in the capital “highly regrettable.”
Smoke from nearby wildfires has pushed pollution to levels deemed potentially harmful to human health.
Exempt from the restrictions were Delhi's seven million motorbikes and scooters, public transport and cars carrying only women, stoking criticism that the measures were ineffective.
The world cannot anymore take the issue of air pollution lightly. Indian capital, Delhi, which is facing an air pollution emergency, has sent a strong message to the rest of the world
The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) refused to change the venue due to logistical issues, although president Sourav Ganguly said they will "be more practical" in the future when scheduling matches in northern India.
The meeting also discussed the successful efforts exerted by the country to fight COVID-19 pandemic and ways to limit its impact and repercussions in all fields.
The Cabinet approved the cancellation of the decision regarding the validity of residency visas for expatriates, who are in or outside the country and if their visas expired between March 1 and 31, 2020.
Hope will take seven months to travel the 493 million kilometres to Mars, in time to mark the 50th anniversary of the emirates' union in 2021.