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Saharan dust over San Fernando was high on Sunday as a major dust plume hit T&T. The T&T Meteorological Service is advising that sensitive groups, such as those with asthma and respiratory illnesses, take necessary precautions.

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The Saharan dust which diminished views and severely affected the respiratory systems of many citizens with allergies and respiratory ailments on Sunday is expected to be with us for most of this week.

As announced by the T&T Meteorological Office late last week, an expected plume of Saharan dust hit the country on Sunday. Many people took to social media to raise varying concerns about the dust which created the haze, with many initially thinking the clouds depicted overcast conditions. Dusty vehicle and subsequent complaints about dry or sore throats made them realise it was something else entirely.

For most of the day, the mountain ranges around the country were barely visible, with some stating the haze felt like a filter from a Hollywood movie depicting an apocalyptic wasteland.

An official from the MET office said it was unclear if this plume, which deposited the dust all over the country, was the worst ever recorded in the country’s history.

“Well, we’re expecting this dust event to last between four to five days and for the values themselves, today (yesterday) we expected it to peak but it should remain fairly significant for the next four to five days,” said the Met Office official, who asked not to be identified.

While it had been stated that yesterday’s dust deposit was expected to be most severe of the pattern, he advised those with respiratory problems to take precautions as the coming days would not be much easier.

“We expect it to be not too far from what we saw today (Sunday), so we still expect it to be significant,” the Met Office official said.

On the Met Office’s social media channel on Sunday, they said, “Dust all around! On the GeoColor satellite loop we can clearly see the thick plume of Saharan dust making its way across the Caribbean Islands.”

Similar warnings concerning the plume had been made by the Met Office in Barbados, while Jamaica’s Met Service also used images from Trinidad to warn of the coming effect from the dust, which is expected to hit that country later this week.

The Environmental Management Authority also announced that based on readings at monitoring stations in Point Lisas and Signal Hill respectively as of 11 am Sunday, “The Air Quality Index has registered unhealthy in Trinidad and hazardous in Tobago.”

The EMA advised that in Trinidad, people with heart or lung disease, older adults, children and people with respiratory ailments and allergies avoid prolonged or heavy exertion, while others should reduce such prolonged or heavy exertion. In Tobago, they advised that everyone should avoid all physical activity outdoors, while people with heart or lung disease, older adults, children and people with respiratory ailments and allergies should remain indoors and keep activities low.