Spain issues warning as cases of intoxication of sanitizer by children rises

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Hand sanitizer is used by students as per coronavirus guidelines, during summer school sessions in Monterey Park, California on July 9, 2020. - California Governor Gavin Newsom says the reopening of California schools for the coming school year will be based on safety and not pressure from President Donald Trump as California sets records for one-day increases in COVID-19 cases. (Photo by Frederic J. BROWN / AFP)

The number of children treated in Spain for accidental poisonings after ingesting hand sanitising gels has soared during the pandemic, the government said Wednesday, urging parents to keep the products out of reach.

There have been 874 reported cases of intoxications from hand sanitising gels so far this year, compared to just 90 during all of 2019, the National Toxicological and Forensic Sciences Institute, a unit of the justice ministry, said in a statement.   

Two-thirds of the cases involved children, especially those under the age of two. The vast majority swallowed the hand-sanitiser although some became intoxicated after getting the product in their eyes or inhaling it.

No fatalities have been reported and over 80 percent the poisoning victims recovered “in a short time”, the institute said.   

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The most common symptoms were, vomiting, diarrhoea, coughing, blurred vision and red eyes.

In a video message posted on Twitter, Justice Minister Juan Carlos Campo called the figures “alarming” and urged parents to “keep hand-sanitising gels out of reach of children and insist that its use to disinfect hands always be supervised by an adult”.

As in other European countries, used of hand-sanitising gels has soared in Spain to curb the spread of Covid-19.

The country has become of the pandemic’s hotspots in the European Union, with close to 910,000 registered cases and over 33,000 deaths.