Twenty-seven people in Iran have died from methanol poisoning after bootleg alcohol was touted as a COVID-19 cure amid a deadly viral outbreak in the country.
The outbreak in Iran is the third deadliest in the world after China and Italy, and 237 deaths have been recorded in the Western Asian country so far.
According to local media, 20 people have died of methanol poisoning in the south-western Iranian province of Khuzestan and seven passed away in the northern province of Alborz after drinking bootleg booze.
A spokesperson for the Ahvaz Jundishapur University of Medical Sciences in the city of Ahvaz also said that 218 people have been hospitalised with alcohol poisoning.
Spokesperson Ali Ehsanpour told local media: that the cases of poisoning were caused by “rumours that drinking alcohol can be effective for treating COVID-19”.
The authorities in Ahvaz have confirmed that they arrested five people in connection with selling alcohol.
Alcohol is prohibited for Iranian citizens by law since the establishment of the Islamic Republic government in 1979.
Prosecutor Mohammad Aqayari said the poisoning cases happened after the victims were “misled by online content, believing they were fighting COVID-19 and curing it”.
If consumed in large quantities, methanol can cause liver damage, blindness and even death.
With the third highest COVID-19 death toll around the world do far, Iran is also dealing with the fourth highest number of confirmed cases at 7,161 – behind China, Italy and South Korea.
Reports said Iran’s healthcare system, struggling from US imposed sanctions, has faced shortages of medicine and resources to help battle the viral outbreak.
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