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Homeless people are drinking hand sanitizer because of its alcohol content.

Alcohol addiction and myths around its capacity to kill the coronavirus lead people, homeless or otherwise, to ingest sanitizers.

Alcohol addiction and myths around its capacity to kill the coronavirus lead people, homeless or otherwise, to ingest sanitizers. Illicit liquor use has been prevalent among the homeless around the world for more than a decade. Over the years, news reports and studies have recorded deaths and other homeless statistics due to non-beverage alcohol consumption, such as rubbing alcohol and hand sanitizers.

Amidst the increasing number of cases due to COVID-19, restrictions are imposed worldwide. The financial condition of people has also been affected. There has been an increase in the number of people, homeless or otherwise, consuming hand sanitizers as they are alcohol-based. Due to lockdowns worldwide, the shopping spaces were shut down, making the availability of alcohol low. Rumors were also spread that alcohol kills the virus by consuming it in any manner.

There were around 20 cases registered under the drinking of hand sanitizers within two months of lockdown in India. They were mostly daily wage earners.

A police chief had told Reuters that some people who were heavily addicted to alcohol consumed hand sanitizers. Alcohol was not available because of the lockdown, but hand sanitizers were readily available in comparison.

High liquor prices and the easy availability of hand sanitizers also prompted people to take this step. People bought cheap hand sanitizers that cost less than a hundred rupees, which had about 70% alcoholic content.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) stated ingestion of alcohol-based hand sanitizer products had been reported in persons with alcohol use disorder. From May 1 to June 30, 2020, fifteen methanol poisoning cases, associated with swallowing alcohol-based hand sanitizers, were reported in Arizona and New Mexico. Four patients died, and three were discharged with visual impairment.

Iranian media reported nearly 300 deaths and more than 1,000 sickened by ingesting methanol across the Islamic Republic. As alcohol is banned, people consumed industrial alcohol due to the viral message that hand sanitizers with drinking alcohol would kill the virus.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) continues to see an increasing number of adverse events with hand sanitizer ingestion, including cardiac effects, effects on the central nervous system, hospitalizations, and death, primarily reported to poison control centers and state departments of health.

The COVID-19 pandemic has given rise to a lot of potentially dangerous misinformation. For reliable advice on COVID-19 including symptoms, prevention and available treatment, please refer to the World Health Organisation or your national healthcare authority.

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