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There has been a sharp rise in cases of respiratory illness in China as the capital experiences a record level of dangerous air pollution.

A toxic haze has smothered Beijing and many other cities for days, prompting complaints even from the strictly controlled state media.

A doctor at Beijing Childrens’ hospital said: “People who have a poor immune system or have been sick recently are especially vulnerable in this weather.”

The number of children with breathing problems is now three times higher than usual according to local hospitals.

Air quality in Beijing was far above hazardous levels over the weekend, reaching 755 on an index that measures particulate matter in the air with a diameter of 2.5 micrometers. A level of
300 is considered dangerous while the World Health Organisation recommends a daily level of no more than 20.

The Beijing branch of China’s environmental watchdog said in its microblog on Monday that it had implemented a one-day emergency pollution reduction plan, which aimed to reduce the number of government cars on roads and to cut emissions at 54 factories by 30 percent.

Digging and demolition work at 28 construction sites would be temporarily halted, it said, but offered no details on the projects or factories involved in the plan.

Copyright © 2014 euronews

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