Cuban health authorities reported Friday two new deaths from drinking bootleg methyl alcohol in a Havana neighborhood, bringing to 11 the number of fatalities from the intoxicating substance.
Officials said Friday that people at risk should go immediately to the nearest medical center at the first sign of any symptoms.
Since the case came to light, 59 people have been hospitalized, mostly at the Joaquin Albarran Surgical Hospital, whose director, Juana Daysi Gonzalez, told Efe Friday that most of the patients are improving and that many of them will be released in a matter of hours.
Most of those affected by drinking the substance, known in Cuba as wood alcohol, live in the Havana municipality of La Lisa, where a local woman illegally sold the deadly alcohol, which - according to the preliminary investigation - had been stolen by two workers from a warehouse of the Drug and Food Institute.
The case has shocked La Lisa residents, many of them affected directly or indirectly by the intoxication.
"My brother died before my very eyes. And my uncle Jesus did too," a local resident named Daymara told Efe.
Daymara went to hospital with her brother and uncle, who after drinking the bootleg alcohol began to get bad headaches and stomach pains, cold sweat and a loss of vision.
Fran Mustelier, 37, is another local who tried the alcohol and went to the hospital when he saw "some of my friends on the block fainting."
Though in his case he had no serious problems, Fran said that after that experience he will never again buy alcohol without knowing where it came from.
Methyl alcohol is a clear liquid generally used as a reagent in laboratories and research centers.
In the official report on the case, released earlier this week, authorities emphasized that this type of alcohol is "extremely toxic for the human organism and its consumption can result in serious effects such as blindness and even death."
The majority of the victims in this case showed the symptoms typical of methyl alcohol poisoning, including "nausea, headaches, vomiting, enervation and vision problems."EFE