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Iran confronts deadly alcohol crisis in midst of dealing with coronavirus

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Iran confronts deadly alcohol crisis in midst of dealing with coronavirus
Somayeh Malekian
ABC News
March 27th, 2020
Iran, already struggling to fight the growing spread of novel coronavirus, is now coming to grips with an alcohol poisoning problem that has killed hundreds of people this year.

In the wake of the deaths, officials initially blamed misinformation on social media for convincing victims that drinking alcohol could protect them against coronavirus. But a change in explanation from doctors is opening eyes to a larger problem of bootleg alcohol in the country.

"The first few days we all thought patients had drunken alcohol to protect themselves of corona, as some of them claimed so," Gholam Hosein Mohebbi, head of the public relation of Imam Hospital of Ahwaz, told ABC News.

"But later we realized from their families and friends that they were mostly alcohol users who would get their alcohol from bootleggers, but this time what they had been handed over was a methanol-based drink, not their usual booze, named araq, mixed with water and ethanol," he added.

Trading and drinking alcohol is illegal in Iran, and those seeking alcoholic drinks often rely on a chain of black market dealers without knowing where and how the drinks are produced. The dealers themselves are often not sure of the source of the alcohol.
Read the full story here.
 
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