27 people have died from methanol poisoning in the Khuzestan and Alborz provinces of Iran after believing fake news claiming that drinking alcohol can help cure the novel coronavirus infection, state news agency IRNA reported on Monday, March 11.
While the official number of confirmed coronavirus infections in the province of Khuzestan was 73, at least 218 Iranians were hospitalized from alcohol poisoning in the medical centres affiliated with Ahwaz University of Medical Sciences. The outbreak of the virus in Iran is one of the deadliest after China, where the disease was first reported.
"Some of the citizens of Ahwaz had heard that drinking alcohol could help them fight the coronavirus, so they used it as a preventive measure,"Ali Ehsanpour, spokesman of Ahwaz University of Medical Sciences, Mehr News Agency as saying.
According to IRNA, twenty have died in the southwestern province of Khuzestan and seven in the northern region of Alborz after consuming bootleg alcohol.
"One of the victims got blind and some others are in critical condition," Ehsanpour added.
In Iran, drinking alcohol is banned for everyone but for some non-Muslim religious minorities. Lethal cases of poisoning caused by bootleg liquor are regularly reported by the local media.
However, with the ban on alcohol in Iran, some have been poisoned by drinking industrial alcohol sold in the market for sanitizing purposes.
The IRNA (Iranian Students' News Agency) was informed by the deputy prosecutor of Alborz, Mohammad Aghayari, that the people who succumbed to methanol poisoning had drunk methanol after being "misled by content online, thinking they were fighting coronavirus and curing it."
When ingested in large quantities, methanol can lead to blindness, liver damage and death.
Reportedly, 16 out of 69 confirmed cases have died of coronavirus infection in Khuzestan as of Sunday.
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