Air pollution sickens over a million in Thailand this year

Thailand's poor air quality has caused over one million cases of air pollution-related diseases this year. The country's health services are struggling to cope, and tourism is also suffering.

Nationwide air pollution levels have repeatedly exceeded safety standards and reached unhealthy levels since last month. Stagnant weather conditions are contributing to the problem.

Public Health Ministry officials said around 1.3 million people have health problems resulting from the air quality since the beginning of the year. Last week alone, nearly 200,000 people were hospitalized with respiratory conditions, or skin and eye infections. Officials are urging children and pregnant women to stay indoors.

One major cause of the pollution is believed to be wildfires and farm-burning in the country's north.

The northern province of Chiang Mai is the worst hit. The tourism authority says many people have cancelled hotel bookings there due to health concerns. Businesses are hoping for a recovery before the traditional Thai New Year holiday in the middle of April.