As many as 500 people in Iran may have died and over a 1,000 fallen ill from ingesting Methanol following rumors that the high-proof alcohol is a remedy for Covid-19.
Iran’s healthcare system has been straining under the weight of the coronavirus epidemic, which has infected 32,000 people and killed almost 2,400 people across the country.
In a climate of fear and skepticism of government advisories, Iranians have been turning to fake remedies that have spread across social media.
Because of guidelines that alcohol-based sanitizers can be used as a hygienic measure against the virus, some have wrongly concluded that drinking high-proof alcohol could kill the disease.
According to Iranian media, almost 300 people have been killed by ingesting methanol. However, an Iranian doctor working in the health ministry reported told the Associated Press that the true death toll was even higher (at 500).
The rush of patients poisoned by Methanol has put further strain on Iran’s already overstretched healthcare system.
“Other countries have only one problem, which is the new coronavirus pandemic. But we are fighting on two fronts here,”
“We have to both cure the people with alcohol poisoning and also fight the coronavirus.Dr Hossein Hassanian, the health ministry adviser
Authorities have begun cracking down on false rumors and individuals selling fake remedies. According to several reports, people in the southwestern province Khuzestan have been arrested for selling methanol to ward off the disease. Cases of methanol drinking have also been reported in the southern city of Shiraz and in the cities of Karaj and Yazd.
Despite the offer of humanitarian aid from the US, the Iranian government has refused, saying that the severe sanctions imposed by the US have been the biggest obstacle in Iran’s fight against the pandemic.