The Ministry of Health has issued a public warning about the life-threatening consequences of consuming drinks mixed with alcohol-based hand sanitisers.

The notice was part of a ministry statement in response to a November 11 incident in Banteay Meanchey province’s Poipet town in which seven migrant workers died and many others were hospitalised after drinking a toxic brew containing sanitiser.

Multiple local officials had told The Post on November 12 that a total of 25 migrant workers had consumed the deadly drink, at a quarantine centre in eastern Poipet town’s Nimith commune, and confirmed that seven had died. The ministry, however, reported the total at just 21.

Following the incident, a rapid response team and medical specialists provided health checks for people at the centre and briefed them on the circumstances surrounding the episode.

Minister of Health Mam Bun Heng issued a general appeal not to combine or consume water or soft drinks with alcohol-based antiseptics, underlining that these substances are made specifically for disinfection purposes and to prevent the spread of diseases.

“Dealers are strictly barred from mixing methanol to make spirits, which could lead to poisoning or death.

“Local authorities at the commune-to-provincial levels have to deploy forces to monitor and prevent the sale of alcoholic brews that do not meet the proper technical standards, and educate people on why they shouldn’t use methanol to make liquor that could cause poisoning or loss of life,” he said in the ministry statement.

The ministry also encouraged the public to go to the nearest state hospital if they have consumed liquor, or suspect that they may have contracted a serious disease, especially if they develop symptoms such as headaches, vomiting, convulsions, photopsia (flashes), suffocation or feel faint.