LAHORE - Dense fog/smog continued blanketing plains, including Lahore, on Monday, disrupting road, rail and air traffic. Experts have predicted the prevailing harsh weather conditions to persist during the next 2-3 days.

Fog started in the afternoon and became so dense at midnight that visibility reduced to zero in open areas. Moderate to dense fog caused closure of parts of Motorway besides hampering vehicular movement on inter and intra city routes, including the National Highway.

Closure of Motorway caused difficulties for motorists who were left with no other option except to use alternative routes, including National Highway. The authorities have advised commuters to avoid unnecessary travelling from evening to early morning. If unavoidable, people should use fog lights and wipers and drive at slow speed.

Poor visibility caused delay in arrival and departure of dozens of domestic and international flights besides disturbing schedule of trains. The Lahore airport was also closed due to fog later in the evening. Almost all trains reached their respective destinations hours behind the scheduled time.

Excessive use of gas at offices and homes led to low gas pressure. In certain areas, women faced difficulties in cooking meals for families.

People continued to approach public sector and private hospitals for treatment of respiratory and skin diseases. Medical experts have advised people to avoid going outdoors unnecessarily. If unavoidable, use masks and glasses and wash face and hands on returning indoors. They advised extra care for asthma patients, old people and kids with weak immunity. They advised applying moisturizers on skin, taking balanced diet and enhancing fruit intake.

Skardu remained the coldest place in the country where mercury dropped to 2 degree Celsius below the freezing point. Maximum and minimum temperature in Lahore was recorded 25C and 16C, respectively. Relative humidity in the evening was recorded 74 per cent.

According to the experts, continental air is prevailing over most parts of the country. Local meteorological department has forecast mainly dry weather for most parts of the province, including Lahore, during the next 2-3 days. Dense foggy conditions are expected over plains of Punjab, including Lahore, at nighttime and in the morning.

Meanwhile, Fatima Jinnah Medical University organised a seminar on smog and related complications. Prof Nizamuddin, chairman of the Punjab Higher Education Commission, participated as chief guest. The guest of honour, Prof Muhammad Amjad, Prof Saulat Ullah Khan and Prof Manzoor Ahmed apprised the audience of hazards relating to smog and necessary preventive measures.

Vice Chancellor of FJMU Prof Khalid Masood Gondal said that excessive emissions from factories and vehicles and burning of stubble and garbage were causing smog. Smog is more hazardous for newborns and pregnant women. To avoid this, vaccination for pregnant women was essential, he said.

The Allama Iqbal Medical College/Jinnah Hospital organised an awareness walk and symposium. Principal of AIMC Prof Rashid Zia, Medical Superintendent Dr Sohail Saqlain, faculty members, doctors, nurses, paramedics and public at large attended the event. Masks and awareness literature were distributed among the participants. The speakers said that burning of puddles, smoke emitting old vehicles, hours long traffic jams, use of substandard fuel by industrial units and rapid and ill-planned urbanisation were responsible for smog. They said that collective efforts and multi-sectoral planning was required to overcome the issue.