BEIJING, Jan. 22 (UPI) -- Beijing's acting mayor announced proposals to curb air pollution as the 14th Beijing Municipal People's Congress opened Tuesday.
The so-called Beijing cough is the major topic of discussion at the gathering this year, the official Chinese news agency Xinhua reported. The city has long been known for haze, smog and soot, but pollution has soared to off-the-charts levels in recent months.
Plans in the report put forward by acting Mayor Wang Anshun include getting rid of at least 180,000 older cars and trucks in the city, encouraging the use of less-polluting vehicles and shutting down about 450 factories.
The Beijing Emergency Medical Center reported the number of patients coming in with respiratory problems Jan. 7-14 was up 54 percent from the same period in 2012. Measured air pollution topped the level that had been considered a maximum for a seven-day stretch this month.
Zhou Long, deputy head of the National Academy of Chinese Theater Arts, said singers have been having a hard time.
"Teachers and students from our academy need to take deep and quick breaths while practicing traditional operas, which makes them inhale much more pollutants than ordinary people," he told Xinhua.