On Monday Iranian officials declared that the false belief toxic methanol combats the virus has killed more than 700 people in the country.
Hossein Hassanian, one of the ministry advisers, announced to The Associated Press, that “Some 200 people died outside of hospitals” increasing the already vertiginous death toll due to Coronavirus – with 93,657 confirmed cases, 5,957 deaths, and 73,791 recoveries.
Methanol is a very toxic substance that cannot be smelled or tasted in drinks. Symptoms such as chest pain, nausea, hyperventilation, blindness, and coma are some of the indicators of the severe organ and brain long-term damage methanol can cause.
From a recent governmental analysis released in early April, alcohol poisoning among the Iranian population has risen steeply by over ten times in the past year since the coronavirus outbreak. Specifically, the national coroner’s authorities research pointed out that, between February the 20th and April the 7th, alcohol poisoning killed 728 people in the country, a dramatic skyrocket that increased from 66 deaths compared to last year’s statistics.
This data was confirmed by Kianoush Jahanpour, Tehran’s health ministry spokesperson, who confirmed the results of the reports saying that 5,011 people had been poisoned from methanol alcohol, 525 of which were killed by swallowing the toxic substance.
He further explained that these numbers could be even higher, but for now, 90 people were confirmed to have lost their eyesight or are suffering severe eye damage from the methanol poisoning.
The consumption of alcohol is largely forbidden in Iran. However, some minority Christians, Jews and Zoroastrians are allowed to drink alcoholic beverages in private spaces only.
After the pandemic outbreak, Tehran announced it would relax the ban on the drink of alcoholic drinks, issuing special permission for constructing new alcohol factories.
Now, the country has 40 alcohol factories that have been allocated for pharmaceutical and sanitizing matters.
Since the government directions claimed that manufacturers of toxic methanol add artificial colour to their products so the public can tell it apart from ethanol, some bootleggers use methanol –which can contaminate conventionally fermented alcohol- by adding a splash of bleach to mask the added colour before selling it as a drinkable beverage.
Ethanol is a type of alcohol that can be used to clean wounds, but it can also be found in alcoholic beverages, even if its production is illegal in Iran.
This is another hard-hit Iran did not want, as the Iranian government is already facing an economic instability period after the severe American sanctions that blocked its crude oil exports.