A sandstorm has covered the capital Beijing with dust as of Wednesday, March 28, raising the air quality index to hazardous levels. Late on March 27, the National Meteorological Center issued a blue warning, the lowest on China’s four-tier alert system, as dust started to cover Beijing; the alert remained in place until noon (local time) on March 28. Residents of northern Beijing and the north of neighboring Hebei province have been advised to keep doors and windows shut, to wear scarves and dust masks when outside, and to drive slowly due to poor visibility.
Sandstorms in China typically originate in Mongolia’s Gobi Desert, whose dust descends on China each year. In an effort to block the sand, Beijing has planted millions of trees along its border with Mongolia.
Even during normal periods, air quality in Beijing is poor due to industrial activity.
Individuals - especially elderly and those with respiratory problems - present in affected areas are advised to minimize outdoors activities as much as possible, keep abreast of the situation, and seek medical assistance if needed.
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