March 12, 2020 / 4:21 PM / in a month

Sanitizer Galore! Greece to turn bootleg booze into coronavirus antiseptic

FILE PHOTO: People wearing protective face masks sit outside the AHEPA hospital, where Greece's first confirmed coronavirus case was treated, in Thessaloniki, Greece, February 26, 2020. REUTERS/Alexandros Avramidis/File Photo

ATHENS (Reuters) - Greek authorities plan to turn tonnes of ethanol confiscated from bootleg booze-makers into sanitizer to combat the coronavirus epidemic.

Up to 155 tonnes of seized alcohol is languishing in customs warehouses across the country. Authorities say they are trying to find manufacturers willing to convert it into antiseptics.

“We moved swiftly to make it available to the Ministry of Health to be used for the general population,” said George Pitsilis, head of the state Independent Authority for Public Revenue.

Greek customs authorities confiscate thousands of bottles of counterfeit alcohol every year, known locally as ‘bombes’.

Vats with misleading labels such as “sugar syrup” or “distilled water” pack a punch. Lab testing showed it had alcoholic volume between 93.5% and 96.5%.

“Fortunately they came at just the right time. Now there is a shortage of pure spirit on the market because of the general shortage in antiseptic gels,” a customs agent told Reuters.

Reporting By Lefteris Papadimas, writing by Michele Kambas, Editing by Angus MacSwan

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