More than 200 expressways were closed and residents were advised to stay indoors as China grappled with the worst smog of the year, ahead of the Paris climate meet yesterday. The public has been warned to take protective measures when engaging in outdoor activities and those who suffer from respiratory diseases are advised to stay indoors.

Smog has shrouded much of northern China including Beijing, Tianjin, Hebei, Henan, Shandong, Shanxi and Shaanxi. China has a four-tier colour-coded weather warning system with red representing the most severe weather followed by orange, yellow and blue.

For its part Beijing yesterday issued its highest smog alert of the year, upgrading it from the yellow of the past two days to orange, second only to red. The municipal weather centre said humidity and a lack of wind would mean the smog will linger for another two days, before a cold front arrives tomorrow.

Yesterday, the reading for PM 2.5, airborne particles smaller than 2.5 microns in diameter, hit 274 micrograms per cubic meter in most parts of the capital. Under the orange weather alert mechanism, industrial plants are required to reduce or shut down production; construction sites should stop the transportation of materials and waste while heavy-duty trucks are banned from the roads.

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