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As scorching temperatures hit 41 degrees Celsius, Macedonia has proclaimed a state of emergency in the capital and nine other towns.
Skopje | Photo by: Sinisa Jakov Marusic
Macedonian authorities have set up so-called "preventive medical points" in urban areas to help people who cannot cope with the boiling heat in the Balkan country.
An official alert has been proclaimed in the capial, Skopje, and in Kumanovo, Veles, Sveti Nikole, Kavadarci, Gevgelija, Radovish, Strumica, Stip and Demir Kapija.
To avoid fatalities, the government is urging people to avoid unnecessary exposure to the sun. The Health Ministry has told elderly people to stay indoors, and all residents to wear light clothes, hats, and protective glasses.
Kindergartens in most towns are being advised to keep the children indoors during the midday.
On Wednesday, the government decided that in the next seven days all public sector workers will work from 7 am to 3 pm. The government spokesperson Aleksandar Gjorgiev urged companies to join these work hours “to spare their workers from the worst of the heatwave”.
The government also urged companies that conduct outdoor activities, especially the construction industry not to expose their staff outdoors between 11 am and 5 pm.
Special medical teams will check elderly and chronically ill persons, especially those living alone.
A Code Orange heat alert has been declared in four areas in the country including the capital Skopje. This means intense weather situations with potential damage, injuries and casualties.
Companies have been told not to expose staff to the sun in the noon hours. On Tuesday, 25 construction firms were given official warnings, after inspectors found they had exposed workers to the sun over the midday.
“We will not tolerate firms that expose their workers to the sun [during the emergency],” Labour Minister Spiro Ristovski said.
The heat in Macedonia started unusually early this year. Since mid-June, temperatures have been bobbing around the 37-degrees mark.
The latest heat wave, which started last week, brought temperatures up to at least 40 degrees, and meteorologists warn that such conditions will remain at least till the end of the week.
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