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Mexico Banned Booze, Now 70 People Have Died of Tainted Alcohol

One thing that is helping us get through the quarantine is a glass of red wine (or two). But what if we couldn’t have that? Not one glass of wine, or beer, or anything? That’s what some people in Mexico are experiencing. State officials in Mexico are limiting — sometimes halting — the sale of alcohol to curb the spread of the coronavirus. However, it is the desperation for alcohol that is, unfortunately, resulting in death. 

Various outlets report that at least 70 people have died in Mexico due to alcohol poisoning. Most of the deaths occurred in the state of Puebla, Yucatan, and Morelos. According to the New York Times, at least 20 people died in one small village in the state of Puebla. The problem, officials say, is that people are resorting to buying alcohol on the black market, and the substance of it, considered moonshine, isn’t made with the proper standards, even worse — not made with alcohol. 

“It’s possible to begin to speculate that with a smaller supply of regulated alcohol, there’s a larger supply of unregulated alcohol,” Gady Zabicky Sirot, director of the National Commission Against Addictions in Mexico, told the Times

The Guardian reports what happens when poison in alcohol is consumed. “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.”

Mexican government officials banned the sale of alcohol, which meant closing up bars and breweries in order to stop people from gathering in these locations. They also stopped selling alcohol in stores to prevent people from hosting parties and gatherings with friends.

“In late April, 25 people died in the state of Jalisco after drinking a cheap brand of cane alcohol known as “El Chorrito,” the Guardian reported. “And local media reported another seven people died of methanol poisoning recently in the Yucatán village of Acanceh, but authorities did not immediately respond to requests for information to confirm that incident.”

It’s unclear if this ban is helping curb the spread of the coronavirus in the country, but according to figures, Mexico’s cases, compared to other countries, is relatively low. However, those numbers are being questioned. 

The numbers do not appear to reflect the death toll for certain,” Donna Patterson, an expert on Mexico’s health care system at Delaware State University, told Vox. “At the federal level, the numbers aren’t being reported accurately.”