Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Authorities to check bootleg alcohol before Christmas

7 December 2012

Prague, Dec 6 (CTK) - Czechs can have suspicious alcohol checked at regional sanitary centers for free before Christmas in order to find out whether the bottles contain poisonous methanol, chief sanitary officer Vladimir Valenta told journalists Thursday.

At Christmas time, there is an increased danger of new methanol poisonings as people drink more alcohol than during the rest of the year.

The free tests do not relate to companies and businesspeople, Valenta said.

Valenta said he had assigned regional sanitary centres and health facilities to intensify their checks.

Along with Health Minister Leos Heger and his deputy Ferdinand Polak, Valenta called on Czechs not to drink alcohol with uncertain origin.

People can bring the alcohol to "any regional sanitary center in all districts of the Czech Republic," Valenta said.

Some 40 people have died since the beginning of a wave of methanol poisonings from bootleg alcohol three months ago.

At present, three people are hospitalised, one of them in a serious health condition.

In September, the authorities reacted to the situation by a temporary ban on alcohol sales.

Detectives discovered the source of the poisoned alcohol 17 days and then arrested the main suspects who allegedly sent the lethal mix into circulation.

However, the poisonings have not stopped, as evidenced by a series of another seven deaths in November.

The police have voiced the fear that at Christmas time, more victims may appear.

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