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'India has become a threat to my health': Costa Rica ambassador quits Delhi

According to reports, Costa Rican Ambassador to India Mariela Cruz Alvarez has developed a respiratory illness and has said that she has had to move to Bengaluru to recover

BS Web Team  |  New Delhi 

Delhi smog, Delhi air quality, air pollution
Foreign tourists wear masks to protect themselves from heavy smog and air pollution that reached high levels at Rajpath, in New Delhi on Friday. (Photo: PTI)

"Suddenly, India has become a threat to my health," writes Costa Rican Ambassador to India in her personal blog. What is this threat to be exact? The toxic admixture of harmful particles, dust, smoke and pollution that is Delhi's air has hit Ambassador Alvarez hard and she has reportedly left the capital. (Read her full blog post detailing her fight with Delhi's pollution here) "I am sick in South India with a serious upper respiratory infection due to New Delhi's unbreathable air," the diplomat wrote in an Instagram post. Alvarez, according to an NDTV report, said that she had left the capital after her "lungs collapsed from the heavy pollution" and because she was "choking to death". "It is not funny to see your lungs expelling a dark residue as if I was a smoker — which I am not," she added in her Insta post. The diplomat wrote that she would be "recovering and resting and out of media from now on" until she got better.

"This past week the levels of pollution in Delhi reached impossible numbers. The consequences of breathing this air I had no idea — until I reached Bangalore and my system collapsed. My clean Costa Rican lungs know nothing about air quality forecast, particles of PM10 and its monitoring, the same as we know nothing about extreme changes in temperature. I'm used to living in paradise and suddenly India has become a threat to my health and the health of my friends and colleagues (sic)," her blog post, written on November 10, read. ALSO READ: Trucks enter Delhi as LG lifts ban; pollution spike likely in coming days Last week, Delhi's air quality was shown to be "severe". According to Safar (System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting And Research), Delhi's air quality was forecast to be "severe" on November 10, with PM10 at 895 microgrammes per cubic metre and PM2.5 at 546 microgrammes per cubic metre -- these are ultrafine particulates that have the ability to enter the respiratory system and subsequently the bloodstream of humans and animals, causing harm.

The same situation had prevailed through the capital for most of that week. According to IE, Alvarez posted a video message on Tuesday saying that she has taken her medicines and was feeling better. Alvarez added that she was recuperating in the lush green surroundings in south India. ALSO READ: From smog cutters to diet tips: Vadra, Kohli and other celebs on Delhi smog Alvarez also called out the denial that seems to surround the health crisis in terms of actually solving it. "Twenty million people in Delhi and many more in North India bearing unbearable levels of pollution that means death in the short term — instant for many who passed last week because of the collapsing of their lungs. And the hardest part is seeing them in total denial of the problem cover their faces and go out as if nothing was happening (sic)," her blog post added. Diplomats aren't the only people who could quit the city if the situation does not improve. In fact, the prevailing situation could hit the city hard in terms of tourists deciding to give it, and adjoining areas, a miss. As reported earlier, Assocham said last week that the alarming level of pollution in Delhi-NCR could hit tourism in the region as November and December are the peak months for foreign travellers to visit India and majority of them opt for the Golden Triangle tourist circuit -- Delhi, Agra, and Jaipur. "International tourists are quite particular about their health and safety. In the wake of such negative developments, Delhi is bound to drop off from the map of international tourists who will pick 'cleaner' South Asian destinations," said the industry body. ALSO READ: Only God can save us, say officials as BJP, AAP, Cong spar over Delhi smog It's not just foreign tourists either, fellow Indian travellers might avoid the city too. "Even domestic tourists are avoiding Delhi. In comparison, international tourists are more sensitive about green tourism," said the industry body. Delhi's citizens, at least some anyway, might also be willing to leave the city for good. Business Standard recently conducted a poll and asked people if they would consider leaving the capital in order to avoid the ill-effects of ALSO READ: Escaping the gas chamber: Helpless residents now start Quit Delhi campaign Out of the 331 people who took the poll conducted on Facebook and Twitter, around 80 per cent of the respondents responded with a 'Ýes' while the remaining 20 per cent responded with a 'No'.

The poll points towards how hard life has been for residents in the past few days, even prompting them to contemplate leaving Delhi for another place.

First Published: Fri, November 17 2017. 12:32 IST