A thunderstorm in Melbourne, the second most populous city in Australia, has been causing widespread respiratory issues among asthma and hay fever sufferers since Monday.
The phenomenon dubbed ‘thunderstorm asthma’ takes place when rye grass pollen absorbs moisture, breaks into small pieces and penetrates deep into people’s airways, affecting their health.
“There have now been six deaths that may have occurred as a result of conditions relating to the thunderstorm asthma events on Monday,” the health department spokesman of the State of Victoria said on Sunday.
According to the spokesman, “five patients are continuing to receive specialist ICU [intensive care unit] care in hospitals in Melbourne, with three still in a critical condition.”
“This was a tragic and unforeseen event and hospitals are continuing to treat 12 people for a variety of respiratory and other related conditions, in addition to those in ICU care,” the spokesman said.
In all, 8,500 patients were treated on Monday and Tuesday in Melbourne, a city of 4.5 million residents, according to officials.
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