New Delhi: Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, which has already cost the lives of many in its wake, over 600 people died and nearly 3,000 hospitalised in Iran after drinking highly concentrated alcohol in the mistaken belief that it can cure coronavirus.
In a country where the healthcare workers are already crippled with 62,589 cases of the virus, which has led to 3,872 deaths, workers now face yet another obstacle of alcohol deaths.
In rumours, hoaxes, and misinformation that gets forwarded in messages, many Iranian social media accounts falsely suggested that a British schoolteacher and many others cured themselves of the COVID-19 infection with whiskey and honey. Also, mixed messages about the use of alcohol-based sanitisers led many to believe that drinking high-proof alcohol could kill the virus.
Many doctors, however, blame the death due to the already existing problem of bootleg alcohol in the country. Most of the hospitalised ones, who were alcohol consumers getting their drink from bootleggers, were this time handed a methanol-based drink. Not the usual alcohol but methanol mixed with water.
Since trading of alcohol is illegal in Iran, alcohol consumers have to rely on a chain of black market dealers without having the proper knowledge of how the drinks are produced. At times, the dealers are themselves not sure about the source of the alcohol.
Iran is one of the hardest-hit countries in the Middle-East due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the deaths due to the consumption of industrial-based alcohol is further straining the already stretched medical system.