The public is advised to stay indoors with all doors and windows closed if ashes from the volcanic eruption of Mount Sinabung in North Sumatra are blown by winds towards Malaysia.

Director-General of Health Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah advised Malaysians to wear masks or use a cloth or wet handkerchief as a respiratory protective device if the air was polluted.

“Children, elderly people and those who have medical problems should avoid or reduce outdoor activities during this time.

“People are also advised to drink plenty of water, frequently wash their faces and other parts of the body that are exposed,” he said in a statement here on Tuesday.

He also advised the public to refrain from driving in ashy conditions due to poor visibility.

Mount Sinabung has been in an eruptive state since Sept 15. The latest eruption, which started on Jan 30, spewed hot ash into the air to a height of 5km

Although the possibility of Malaysia being exposed to the ash is low, it is likely to involve certain parts of the country.

Dr Noor Hisham said those who were exposed to the ash would experience various eye, nose, throat and skin symptoms.

He said people usually experienced eye discomfort or irritation during and after ash fell. Those is especially so for those using contact lenses.

He added that the ministry would continue to monitor the situation and give appropriate advice.

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