More than 700 people have died in Iran after ingesting toxic methanol after falsely believing in rumours that it can cure the Chinese coronavirus, reports Al Jazeera.
According to the reports, more than 5,000 people have been poisoned from methanol-mixed alcohol leading to 728 Iranians getting killed between February 20 and April 7. Last year there were only 66 deaths from alcohol poisoning in the Islamic Republic.
“People think that alcohol causes immunity to corona while drinking alcohol does not eliminate corona in the body,” a medical expert was quoted saying.
Meanwhile, Iranian health ministry spokesman, Kianoush Jahanpour, said 5,011 people have been poisoned from methanol, adding that some 90 people have lost their eyesight or are suffering eye damage from the alcohol poisoning.
Misinformation on social media
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 thousands of people fall sick, killing nearly 700 Iranians.
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.
Consumption of alcohol is banned in Iran
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 so the public can differentiate it from ethanol.
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.
Methanol cannot be smelled or tasted in drinks. It causes delayed organ and brain damage. Symptoms include chest pain, nausea, hyperventilation, blindness and even coma.
The Islamic Republic of Iran has been largely affected by the Wuhan coronavirus pandemic. Reportedly, 91,000 people had been affected while over 5,806 lives had been lost.