PRAGUE -- The Czech Republic has banned the sale of spirits with more than 20 percent alcohol content as it battles a wave of methanol poisonings that has already killed 19 people.
Health Minister Leos Heger says the unprecedented ban is effective immediately and applies nationwide. It covers all possible sales locations, including restaurants, hotels and stores.
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Kiosks and markets had earlier been banned from selling spirits with more than 30 percent alcohol content.
In a brief announcement late Friday, Heger said the measure was taken as the death toll from the poisonings reached 19 and the first person was hospitalized in Prague.
Dozens of people have been hospitalized, some in critical condition after drinking vodka and rum laced with methanol. The problem appears largely centered in northeastern Czech Republic.