Battling hard to stem the spread of the COVID-19, which has devoured nearly 4500 lives, the country is also coming to grips with a spurious liquor problem that has killed more than 700 people.
Recently a viral video showed that a five-year-old child recuperating in an Iranian hospital had lost vision after his parents forced him to drink highly concentrated liquor to get protection from the pandemic.
Sources told Anadolu Agency that the alarming trend of consuming alcohol to battle the virus has been reported in at least 26 provinces.
The maximum cases have been reported in the capital Tehran, the southwestern province of Khuzestan, the northern province of Mazandaran, northwestern provinces of Ardabil and Azerbaijan, and the western province of Lorestan nestled in the Zagros Mountains.
A few cases have been reported from the southern historical city of Shiraz as well.
“A bizarre belief is borne out of ignorance and dogma that consumption of alcohol prevents COVID-19 infection has triggered this new crisis,” Dr. Sina Dehgahi, a Tehran-based medical practitioner told Anadolu Agency. He blamed social media for spreading such fallacies.
Citing a story published in a British tabloid in February, some social media accounts promoted the belief that some people defeated the virus, by consuming alcohol.
“The medical advisories that alcohol-based sanitizers can prevent infection have mainly shaped this wrong perception that its consumption could also ward off the virus,” said Dr. Dehgahi.
He said there is a high probability that the consumption of liquor could cause blindness, liver and kidney ailments or even death.
While alcohol is banned in Iran, which can lead to prison terms or lashes, some people flout the law and produce it at home using methanol, according to reliable sources.
“It is not an organized industry. Some produce it for themselves while others see it as an opportunity to make quick bucks in troubled times,” said a source privy to these developments.
According to reports, many people involved in the production and sale of bootleg alcohol have been taken into custody by police in Tehran, Khuzestan, and Lorestan.