Residents of the Virgin Islands are being urged to take precautions due to deteriorating air quality caused by a large plume of Sahara dust enveloping the territory. The Department of Disaster Management (DDM) has issued an advisory stating that air quality levels could reach unhealthy ranges within the next 24 hours.

The dust plume is expected to impact the Virgin Islands through Thursday of this week. During this period, the DDM is advising the public, especially at-risk groups, to exercise extreme caution and limit outdoor exposure as much as possible.

Those considered at higher risk from the dusty air include the elderly, children, people with underlying lung conditions, and individuals with chronic cardiopulmonary diseases. Potential symptoms from exposure to the Sahara dust range from sore throat, itchy eyes, runny nose, and sneezing to dry coughing.

To minimize health impacts, residents are advised to keep windows and doors closed, remain indoors when possible, and wear masks to prevent inhaling dust particles. The DDM also recommends keeping quick-relief medication like inhalers on hand and seeking medical attention if symptoms become severe.

The DDM pledges to continue monitoring the situation and updating advisories as needed to keep residents safe and informed. They urge heeding all precautionary guidance until air quality conditions improve territory-wide.