Due to overwhelming misinformation on social media, Iranian citizens resorted to consuming spurious alcohol in a bid to cure the deadly Wuhan Coronavirus infection. Indiscriminate drinking accompanied by methanol poisoning has made a 1000 people sick in Iran and has claimed 300 lives. Another report claimed that as many as 480 people could have died due to this and over 2850 people could have fallen sick.
Iranian media reports nearly 300 people have been killed and more than 1,000 sickened by ingesting toxic methanol across the Islamic Republic out of the false belief it kills the new coronavirus. https://t.co/tUjo8TI0aP— The Associated Press (@AP) March 27, 2020
The misinformation stemmed from a tabloid story published in early February which claimed that a British man cured himself of Coronavirus infection by drinking whiskey with honey. Many believe that using alcohol-based sanitizer to ward off germs is akin to drinking alcohol to cure Coronavirus infection.
Health Ministry Adviser Dr Hossein Hassanian said, “Other countries have only one problem, which is the new coronavirus pandemic. But we are fighting on two fronts here. We have to both cure the people with alcohol poisoning and also fight the coronavirus. “
Consumption of alcohol is banned in the Islamic Republic of Iran. It is mandatory for manufacturers of methanol to add artificial colour to their products for public convenience. Bootleggers, however, add bleach to these products such that it dilutes the artificial colour. Due to a growing demand for alcohol, bootleggers often sell methanol to its customers instead of ethanol. This explains the steep rise in cases of methanol poisoning.
“The virus is spreading and people are just dying off, and I think they are even less aware of the fact that there are other dangers around. When they keep drinking this, there’s going to be more people poisoned”, Knut Erik Hovda, a clinical toxicologist in Oslo was quoted as saying.
Earlier this month, 44 people in Iran had died due to consumption of bootleg alcohol due to the rumours that it can cure coronavirus infection. Also, hundreds had been hospitalized after consuming the methanol in an effort to curb the disease. Seven bootleggers had been arrested in connection with the incident.
Iran has been largely affected by the Wuhan Coronavirus pandemic. Reportedly, 32000 people had been affected while over 2,300 lives had been lost. Owing to the massive casualties, two vast trenches of 100 metres that are now visible from space were dug at the Behesht-e Masoumeh complex in Qom. The evacuation work in Qom, a city located about 130km south of Tehran, began around February 21 but it was expanded rapidly to keep with the rising number of deaths