The worst air pollution levels in 20 years have hit New Zealanders, who have been hit by a record number of air pollution-related deaths.
A total of 8,734 people have died from air pollution since January.
The death toll is expected to climb as more people come to terms with the problem, with more than a million now living in rural areas.
Air pollution can lead to heart and lung problems and breathing problems in people of all ages.
It can also cause lung damage in people over 60.
“We’re experiencing a severe air pollution problem, and people are having a very hard time getting around,” Chief Health Officer Dr Andrew King said.
“It’s the worst air quality since 2001.”
It has been estimated there are about 7,000 people living in remote areas of New Zealand.
“There’s a lot of isolation, a lot more isolation than we had in 2001.
It’s affecting the health of the community,” he said.
New Zealand was among the first countries to implement strict pollution limits in 2001, and the country has the world’s lowest air pollution standards.
The country has a long history of air quality, dating back to the Bronze Age.
Dr King said it had been difficult to get the government to put in place the controls that were needed to control the problem.
“Our focus has been to put a lid on air pollution,” he told reporters.
“That’s the biggest challenge we’ve had.”
The country’s capital city Wellington was the first city in the world to introduce stricter pollution controls.
DrKing said New Zealand was also one of the first places in the UK and the US to introduce bans on diesel-powered vehicles.
“The road to recovery is a long one, but we’re certainly getting there,” he added.