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Video: South Africans drink hand sanitiser to quench thirst

Published Apr 24, 2020


DURBAN – South Africans are resorting to both legal and illegal means of trying to get their hands on alcohol. The latest stunt pulled by those who are desperate to quench their thirst has been to drink alcohol-based sanitizers.

Eastern Cape officials raised the alarm after residents resorted to drinking hand sanitizer as they were unable to purchase or brew alcohol.

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The sale of alcohol has been banned since the implementation of the lockdown at midnight on March 26.

Mwelo Nonkonyana, Eastern Cape House of Traditional leaders Chairperson said: “Though the product contains alcohol, it is not meant for human consumption. We have now heard that some people have fallen sick from this and we are now looking at putting this as a regulation so that whoever is found drinking hand sanitizer as a way to replace alcohol will be arrested as they would be breaking the law.”

Why is alcohol-based sanitizer dangerous for drinking?

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Alcohol-based hand sanitizers contain high volumes of pure alcohol which is combined with other chemicals. Alcohol used in hand sanitizers is mainly isopropyl alcohol (C3H8O) which is harmful to the human body if consumed. Hand sanitizers often contain hydrogen peroxide which is used to kill bacteria.

While alcohol sold by breweries, for human consumption, is commonly made through the process of fermentation. Alcohol produced through this process is ethanol (C2H6O).

Here are methods desperate South African are using to access alcohol:

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• Homemade alcohol

• Bootlegging

• Looting

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• Pleading with the government to lift the alcohol ban

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