Methanol poisoning deaths rise to 29

KUALA LUMPUR, 22 Sept 2018:

Seven new cases of alcohol poisoning have been reported in  Health Ministry facilities – six in Kuala Lumpur and one in Perak as of yesterday.

Health Director-General Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said 76 cases in Selangor, Kuala Lumpur and Perak were recorded since Sept 15.

“There were a total of  29 deaths of which 18 were in Selangor, nine in Kuala Lumpur and two in Perak,” he said in a statement.

The  29 recorded cases of fatal methanol poisoning involved Myanmar nationals (12), Malaysia (9), Nepal (6), Bangladesh (1) and two with no citizenship status.

He added that there were 47 recorded cases of methanol poisoning that were non-fatal. They  included Nepal nationals (21), Myanmar (10), Bangladesh (eight), Malaysia (seven) and Indonesia (one).

Dr Noor Hisham said the Ministry of Health through its Food Safety and Quality Division was carrying out enforcement action nationwide.

“So far, 262 premises selling liquor have been inspected with 780 bottles of various brands of alcoholic beverages including brands that did not comply with the Food Act 1983 and Food Regulations 1985, being seized.”

Dr Noor Hisham added that Section 13 of the Food Act 1983 stated any person who prepared or sold any food that had poisonous or harmful substances that were injurious to health was committing an offence and could upon conviction, be liable to a fine not exceeding RM100,000 or imprisonment for a term not exceeding 10 years or both.

Those with symptoms of methanol poisoning – such as abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, headache, vision loss – within five days of consuming  alcoholic beverages should immediately seek treatment at a clinic or hospital.

Meanwhile, the Selangor police have made 10 arrests in 13 raids mounted in the state from Wednesday.

Selangor police chief Datuk Mazlan Mansor said the operation code-named ‘Ops Methanol’ was carried out at retail and convenience stores in Shah Alam, Gombak, Sungai Buloh and Kajang.

The 10 arrested individuals comprised nine men and a woman who are the operators and workers of the stores, he said in a statement.

“During the raids, 1,021 bottles of liquor and 1,695 cans of various brands of beer were seized. All suspects have been remanded for investigation under Section 135 (1) (d) of the Customs Act 1967.”

– Bernama