Suspected alcohol poisoning: Number of cases rises to 51 with 19 deaths

PETALING JAYA: All the victims who were hospitalised due to suspected alcohol poisoning have a history of consuming compounded hard liquor, said the Health Ministry.

Health director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah (pic) said based on the investigation carried out by the Federal Territories and Selangor Health Departments, all of the patients were found to be involved in purchasing compounded hard liquor from premises around Kuala Lumpur and Selangor.

“Samples of the alcoholic beverage taken during the investigation at the sale premises have been sent to the Sungai Buloh National Public Health Laboratory to be examined and analysed,” he said in a statement on Tuesday (Sept 18).

It was reported that based on accounts by the victims, it is learnt that they had purchased three brands of alcoholic beverages – Mandalay Whiskey, Kingfisher Beer and Grand Royal Whiskey – from multiple shops in the Klang Valley on Monday (Sept 17).

Dr Noor Hisham explained that most of the victims had shown early signs of methanol poisoning including stomach ache, nausea, vomiting, headache, blurred vision, with some developing shortness of breath, cramps, and sudden unconsciousness.

“All the necessary lab tests have been conducted including taking blood and urine samples from the victims which were later submitted to the forensic lab in the Sungai Buloh Hospital for further analysis,” he said.

According to the Health Ministry, as of 5pm Tuesday, the number of cases rose to 51 involving methanol poisoning, comprising 45 cases in Selangor, and six in Kuala Lumpur.

“From the total, three of the victims are Malaysians while 48 of them are foreigners from Myanmar, Nepal, Bangladesh and India,” said Dr Noor Hisham.

He also noted that from the total, 19 of them have died while 14 victims are still warded and in critical condition.

“Nine of them have been moved to the hospital ward for further treatment and care, while another nine victims have been allowed to return home after getting treatment.

“The total number is expected to increase with more patients coming in for the treatment of methanol poisoning,” he said.

Dr Noor Hisham noted that a police report had been lodged by the Ministry to investigate the supplier, beverage manufacturer, and source of poisoning, as well as to stop the selling of compounded hard liquor in the market.

“The Ministry will continue to cooperate with other agencies including the police to control and monitor the situation involving alcohol poisoning," he said.

Following a surge of reports on those admitted to hospitals in Selangor after consuming alcohol, police initiated an investigation and confiscated at least 20 boxes of various alcohol brands from two grocery shops in Jalan Industri 6, Kampung Baru Sungai Buloh here.

Police have classified the casualties as sudden death pending a full report on the post-mortem.
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