KUALA LUMPUR: The Health Ministry has confirmed that 19 people in the Klang Valley had died from consuming alcohol containing methanol, while 14 others were in critical condition.
Its secretary-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah nine more people were being warded for observation.
He said as of 5pm, the ministry had received 51 notifications of alcohol poisoning, with 45 were reported in Selangor and six cases in Kuala Lumpur.
He said three cases involved Malaysians while 51 people were Myanmar nationals, Nepalese, Bangladeshi and Indian nationals.
“The ministry expected the number of patients to increase as there was a rise in number of people seeking treatment for metanol poisoning case.
“All of the patients have history of consuming alcohol liquid containing the poisonous substance,” he said in a statement today.
Dr Noor Hisham said the patients showed symptoms like stomach ache, nauseousness, vomiting, head ache and blurry eye sight, with some experiencing difficulty of breathing, cramp and loss of consciousness.
He said patients would experience early signs of the condition within one or two days after consumption.
“Based on investigations by Health Department as well as district health offices, it was revealed that the patients had bought the liquor from premises in KL and Selangor.
“The ministry had lodged a police report to identify the distributor and manufacturer including to stop the sales of the product that had been contaminated.
“The ministry, through the Safety and Food Quality division, is enhancing enforcement actions on sales of alcoholic beverages that are in violation of the Food Act 1983 and Food Regulations 1985,” he said.
He said according to Section of the Act, any individual that was found to prepare or sell food products that contain toxic ingredient, cause damages or affect the health could face fine of up to RM100,000 and 10 years’ jail.
He warned the public against consuming alcoholic beverage that may contain methanol that could cause health problems like shortness of breath, diarrhea, head ache, blurry vision and cramp, among others, as it could lead to death.
“The ministry will work with the police and relevant agencies to control and monitor the situation. The latest update on the case will be announced from time to time,” he said.