Seven people in Russia’s Far East republic of Yakutia have died and two were in a coma on Monday the 23rd of November 2020 after consuming diluted hand sanitizer which was readily available during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Russian investigators published a statement on Saturday the 21st of November 2020 that stated that a group of nine locals fell very ill in the village of Tomtor, Russia, after consuming diluted hand sanitizer that they had purchased at a local shop.
Investigators stated that they found a five litre canister that was not labelled at the scene. Once contents of the canister were tested it was found that it contained 69% menthol, and an industrial non-drinking type of alcohol.
The first three victims died on the spot at the scene, while six others were flown by medical aircraft to the regional capital Yakutsk, Russia.
Four of these people died in hospital.
On Monday the 23rd of November health authorities stated that doctors are fighting to save the lives of the remaining two, a 48-year-old woman and a 32-year-old man, both of whom are in a coma and on ventilators.
Yakutia’s health authorities on Sunday the 22nd of November 2020 banned the sale of the methanol-based hand sanitizer.
A criminal case has been launched over the “infliction of death by negligence”.
The consumption of alcohol substitutes due to their cheap price is not uncommon in Russia’s poorer regions.
In 2016, more than 100 people were poisoned in Siberia’s Irkutsk region, Russia, after consuming a hawthorn-infused bath lotion, and 78 of them died.
The bath product also contained methanol that forms nerve toxins when broken down, frequently causing blindness and fatal respiratory failure.
Although alcohol consumption in Russia has decreased in recent years, when authorities imposed lockdown the purchases increased significantly.