On my first day in Jambi I wore one of the standard-issue green face masks handed out at medical clinics which are widely reported to offer almost no protection. Local communities have been overcome by the haze for almost two months. WHO warns of coronavirus overreaction. In addition to how awful the haze makes you feel and the inadequate access to basics such as masks and oxygen tanks, there is a second issue that is little discussed: the psychological effect of being in a permanent fog of toxic fumes. As Jambi battles forest fires that have produced a toxic smog, even the city's statues have masks. It was, however, a very brief taste of what was to come. The mental anguish this causes is in many ways worse than the actual physical effects. I was, of course, one of the very privileged. Once home, the photographer and I both came down with a fever, something a local doctor had warned us would happen as our bodies tried to fight the effects of the haze.
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