At least 194 people have died and more than 1,000 poisoned since March 6 because they consumed bootleg alcohol, an Iranian official said Saturday.

Ahwaz University of Medical Sciences spokesman Ali Ehsanpour told the country’s official news agency IRNA that rumors on social media claiming alcohol could cure the coronavirus plays a big role in the deaths.

Iranian prosecutors announced 17 arrests as part of its investigation.

The sale and consumption of alcoholic beverages are prohibited among Muslims in Iran. Under Iranian law, those who produce, buy or sell alcohol can be sentenced to prison and receive lashes.


Read more: Bootleg alcohol kills 194 people in Iran