New Delhi woke up under a toxic haze on Saturday as air quality in the Indian capital plummeted to an eight-month low.

The air quality index (AQI) crossed 350 at various places, hovering between “very poor” and “severe” since Thursday.

The city enjoyed relatively cleaner air over the past eight months as industrial activity halted due to the COVID-19 lockdown.

However, a drop in temperatures, coupled with the resumption of industrial operations and stubble burning by farmers after the harvest season, have raised pollution levels back up to dangerous levels.

The conditions are likely to persist as the meteorological department said maximum wind speeds in New Delhi remained between 6.2-7.4 miles per hour from Friday to Saturday morning.

Wind speeds below 7.4 mph are unfavorable for the dispersal of pollutants.

With India’s COVID-19 case count now over 7.4 million, there are growing fears that the deteriorating air quality will worsen the existing public health crisis.

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