Over 100 people have died of methanol poisoning in Mexico

20/05/2020
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17:31
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Newsroom & Agencies
Over 100 people have died of methanol poisoning in Mexico
Authorities have not said whether people drank the adulterated alcohol because legitimate liquor was unavailable or whether the economic effects of the lockdown have forced people to turn to cheaper versions - Photo: File Photo/EL UNIVERSAL

Over 100 people have died of methanol poisoning in Mexico

20/05/2020
17:31
Newsroom & Agencies
Mexico City
Justino Miranda, AP
-A +A
Experts believe the issue is linked to the ban of alcohol and beer sale in some communities

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Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, at least  159 people have died of alcohol poisoning in five states; the issue has worsened since authorities banned the sale of alcohol in some communities amid the pandemic.
 
So far, 70 people have died of alcohol poisoning in Puebla; 29 in Morelos; 43 in Jalisco; 15 in Yucatán, and two in Veracruz
 
Every day, Mexico registers more deaths linked to methanol consumption.
 
In Early May, Mexican authorities confirmed 40 people died after drinking methanol in two states, the latest in a series of mass adulterated alcohol poisonings registered since COVID-19 lockdowns were implemented and many towns banned beer and liquor sales.
 
Methanol is a poisonous cousin of the ethanol alcohol present in normal liquors and cannot be smelled or tasted in drinks. It causes delayed organ and brain damage, and its symptoms include chest pain, nausea, hyperventilation, blindness, and even coma.
 
In Chiconcuautla, Puebla, Mayor Artemio Hernández said that at least 18 people had died of presumed methanol poisoning, but the city’s Facebook page put the number at 25.
 
The state government said it had closed the stores where the adulterated liquor was sold, and seized about 200 liters. Hernández said the suspect liquor was a little-known brand called “Refino,” which translates roughly as “very fine.”
 
Recommended: Beer shortage in Mexico: Factories will halt beer and spirits amid the COVID-19 pandemic

Puebla state Interior Secretary David Méndez said the victims may have drunk the contaminated liquor at a funeral earlier this month, where as many as 80 people gathered. Such large-scale funerals have supposedly been prohibited under physical distancing measures aimed at fighting the COVID-19 pandemic.
 
In Morelos, inspectors seized five 20-liter-jugs of unlabeled alcohol that was believed to be the cause of 15 poisoning deaths in Telixtac and a nearby town. 
 
In late April, 25 people died in Jalisco after drinking a cheap brand of cane alcohol known as “El Chorrito.” The outbreak sickened 77 people but 33 recovered. Almost all were men in two poor, rural communities in southern Jalisco.
 
A local media reported another seven people died of methanol poisoning recently in Acanceh, Yucatán.
 
It is unclear if the poisonings are related to the new COVID-19 lockdowns. Authorities have not said whether people drank the adulterated alcohol because legitimate liquor was unavailable or whether the economic effects of the lockdown have forced people to turn to cheaper versions.

However, according to experts, the ban of alcohol sale in some communities put indigenous communities at risk of purchasing and drinking adulterated alcohol.

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