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The Indian Medical Association declared a public health emergency Tuesday after air quality readings soared off the charts.
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Air pollution in Delhi has hit hazardous levels, prompting officials to announce on Wednesday a temporary shutdown of the education system until next week.

The move came a day after doctors declared a “public health emergency” in the world’s most polluted city.

“Delhi has become a gas chamber. Every year this happens during this part of year,” its Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said on Twitter.

More: The most polluted city is? Hint: It’s not in China

As winter approaches, a thick blanket of poisonous air particles envelops Delhi, mainly due to burning of crop stubble by farmers in the neighboring states, dust from construction sites, vehicle emissions and burning of coal and garbage. Low wind speeds and low temperatures further aggravate the problem.

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The Indian Medical Association (IMA) has advised residents to stay indoors and avoid any physical activities.

The IMA called on the authorities to halt sports and other outdoor activities in schools. The organizers of the Delhi Half Marathon, scheduled to take place on November 19, have also been asked to postpone the event.

“Every possible step required to tackle the situation has been already identified, and the need of the hour is to put them into action,” India’s Environment Minister Dr. Harsh Vardhan said on Twitter.

“If Government of Delhi thinks that sprinkling of water through helicopter is the most cost effective measure, it’s free to do so,” he said.