Health director-general Datuk Dr. Noor Hisham Abdullah said yesterday, 18 September, that victims of alcohol poisoning across Klang Valley showed symptoms of methanol poisoning
"The early signs of (methanol) poisoning will appear one or two days after consumption," Hisham was quoted by Malay Mail as saying in a statement yesterday. The symptoms include:
- stomach ache,
- blurry eyesight,
- breathing difficulties,
- and loss of consciousness.
New Straits Times reported Hisham as saying that all victims have history of consuming compounded hard liquor.
"We have also informed all health facilities to prep up to provide medical treatment to those who are visiting hospitals or clinics for possible signs of methanol poisoning," he added.
The death toll of the case has risen to 19 as of 5pm yesterday
According to The Star, a total of 51 cases of methanol poisoning were recorded. 45 of them were in Selangor, while six were in Kuala Lumpur.
"From the total (of 51 victims), three (of them) are Malaysians while 48 of them are foreigners from Myanmar, Nepal, Bangladesh, and India," Hisham said.
Blood and urine samples of the victims have been sent to the forensic lab in the Sungai Buloh Hospital for further analysis.
"We have also taken samples of the alcoholic drinks to be analysed at the National Public Health Laboratory in Sungai Buloh to determine the contents of the beverage," the Health director-general added.
Hisham added that the Food Safety and Quality Division under the Health Ministry is toughening prosecution on alcoholic beverages that do not comply with the Food Act 1983 and Food Regulation 1985
"Police reports have also been lodged by the ministry to identify the distributors, manufacturers and the source of the (methanol) poisoning while restricting the supply of contaminated alcoholic beverage in the market," Hisham said in the statement.
The Health director-general also urged the public to avoid drinking any alcoholic beverages that may contain traces of methanol, which will lead to health complications and ultimately, death.
Section 13 of the Food Act 1983 stipulates that anyone who prepares or sells any food that contains poisonous, harmful or injurious substances will face a maximum jail term of 10 years, a fine not more than RM100,000, or both.