The death toll from alcohol poisoning in Iran has risen to 300 after people started to consume methanol because of a rumour that high proof alcohol could cure the coronavirus.
Iranian media reports that more than 1,000 have been sickened so far by ingesting methanol across the Islamic Republic, where drinking alcohol is banned and where those who do rely on bootleggers.
According to MailOnline, it comes as Tehran announced 144 new deaths from coronavirus on Friday, bringing its death toll to 2,378, and another 2,926 new confirmed cases, with a total of more than 32,300 infected.
There have been a spate of fake remedies spreading across social media in Iran, where people remain deeply suspicious of the government after it downplayed the crisis for days before it overwhelmed the country.
Dr. Knut Erik Hovda, a clinical toxicologist in Oslo who studies methanol poisoning and fears Iran’s outbreak could be even worse than reported, said: ‘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.’ Iran as been particularly badly hit by the coronavirus pandemic, which is home to 80 million people.
As of now, there is no known cure for COVID-19, the illness caused by the virus. Scientists and doctors continue to study the virus and search for effective medicines and a vaccine.
Meanwhile, Vanguard reported that some residents of Kwara State now use hand sanitisers as mouthwash and to rub on their bodies as prevention against COVID-19 infection.
On the Iran incident, in messages forwarded and forwarded again, Iranian social media accounts in Farsi falsely suggested a British school teacher and others cured themselves of the coronavirus with whiskey and honey, based on a tabloid story from early February.
Mixed with messages about the use of alcohol-based hand sanitizers, some wrongly believed drinking high-proof alcohol would kill the virus in their bodies.
The Islamic Republic has reported over 29,000 confirmed cases and more than 2,200 deaths from the virus, the highest toll of any country in the Middle East.
International experts also fear Iran may be under-reporting its cases, as officials for days played down the virus ahead of a parliamentary election.
That fear of the virus, coupled with poor education and internet rumors, saw dozens sickened by drinking bootleg alcohol containing methanol in Iran’s southwestern Khuzestan province and its southern city of Shiraz.
Videos aired by Iranian media showed patients with IVs stuck in their arms, laying on beds otherwise needed for the fight against the coronavirus, including an intubated 5-year-old boy who had been turned blind from the alcohol poisoning.
Iranian media also reported cases in the cities of Karaj and Yazd. The government mandates that manufacturers of toxic methanol add an artificial color to their products so the public can tell it apart from ethanol, the kind of alcohol that can be used in cleaning wounds.
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