Strong alcoholic beverages can be used in Japanese hospitals "when absolutely necessary" instead of hand disinfectants as supplies run dry as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
Spirits with an alcohol content between 70 and 83 percent can be replaced to sterilize the hands according to new rules set out in a document from the Ministry of Health received by AFP on Tuesday.
Some vodkas are so strong, but traditional Japanese drops like sake and shochu don't make it – with a maximum alcohol content of around 22 and 45 percent, respectively.
However, some sake makers have started making stronger alcohol products to meet the demand for disinfectants.
The Japanese beverage giant Suntory is already producing disinfectants in the United States, the country most affected by the outbreak.
According to Japanese regulations, liquids intended for disinfection should contain an alcohol content between 76.9 and 81.4 percent.
More than that is less effective and should be watered down, officials say.
Japan has so far been spared the catastrophic outbreaks in Europe and the United States, but a recent surge in cases, particularly in Tokyo, has raised concerns.
The corona virus killed 109 people in the country and infected more than 7,600.
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