More than 700 companies stopped production in Beijing and traffic police were restricting drivers by monitoring their license plate numbers, state media reported. Dozens of cities closed schools and took other emergency measures after a “red alert” was issued from Friday night to Wednesday for much of northern China.
Authorities in the northern province of Hebei ordered coal and cement plants to temporarily shut down or reduce production. Elsewhere, hospitals prepared teams of doctors to handle an expected surge in cases of pollution-related illnesses.
China’s long-standing air pollution is blamed on its reliance on coal and emissions from older cars.
Dong said emissions from factories in nearby provinces were the main cause of the smog choking the capital.
On Sunday, news websites said the number of children being taken to Beijing hospitals with breathing trouble soared. Photos showed waiting rooms crowded with parents carrying children who wore face masks.