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Half of sandstorm victims under 12

JEDDAH: Jeddah’s health department has reported that half of those hospitalized for respiratory problems caused by the recent massive sandstorm here were children under the age of 12.
Sources quoted by a local publication on Monday said 56 children received treatment at local hospitals including the maternity and pediatric hospitals in Al-Masadiya and Al-Aziziya in Jeddah.
The publication reported that there was criticism of Education Minister Ahmed Al-Issa for not closing the city’s schools when the sandstorm hit the city on Sunday.
Al-Issa had reportedly said that it was not necessary to close the schools and that there should be clear regulations drawn up for when classes must be suspended. The weather conditions reportedly saw two people killed and flights delayed by six hours.
Users on social media websites published photographs of a girl standing in the middle of a road after school hours on Sunday, and posted messages saying that it was a mistake for the schools to have remained open.
An administrator from a private school posted a photograph of a boy looking for a cab during the sandstorm and stated that it was wrong to have forced some children to attend classes. He said some schools had suspended lessons early on Sunday morning when the sandstorm hit.
Meanwhile, there was a huge demand for face masks, with prices rising in some places. Abu Fahad, a citizen, said one pharmacy sold masks for double the original price. He said the price of a box rose from SR30 to SR50 because of the increased demand.
Ali Abdulrahman, a pharmacist, said the sandstorm caused panic among young and elderly people suffering from asthma and other respiratory problems. Awad Al-Saad, another chemist, said price hikes were normal as companies tried to make extra profits.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Labor in Makkah had ordered that companies should not have employees working outside during the sandstorm. Inspectors reportedly went out to enforce the orders in the region, with warnings of heavy penalties for those failing to comply.

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