A thick cloud of dust from Africa is expected to engulf parts of central and southern Greece today, causing traffic problems by reducing visibility and aggravating allergies.

Motorists have been warned to be extra careful as storms, forecast for many parts of the country, could transform the dust into muddy rain, making travel precarious.

Meanwhile doctors warned that the dust could aggravate seasonal allergies and make life difficult for asthmatics. The symptoms usually start with an itchiness in the nasal area followed by irritation in the lungs. Those in places affected by the dust cloud who suffer from asthma and lung-related complaints should remain indoors, experts said.

The dust cloud, a mist of tiny grains of sand blown over from Africa by southerly winds, is a seasonal phenomenon in Greece.