For millions of Americans who are hunkered down in their respective homes, it’s best to go easy on the beer and hard liquor – for drinking alcohol can increase the risk of catching COVID-19 and aggravate symptoms if you do get it, according to the World Health Organization.
With these medical facts in mind, the WHO has recommended that government leaders worldwide seek measures to limit access to alcohol during coronavirus-related lockdowns.
“Alcohol compromises the body’s immune system and increases the risk of adverse health outcomes,” the WHO’s regional office for Europe said on its website, while referencing heavy alcohol use throughout the continent. “Therefore, people should minimize their alcohol consumption at any time, and particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic.”
The WHO also pointed out that excessive drinking of alcohol could in fact lead to an array of other dangerous outcomes, including domestic violence, risk-taking behaviors and mental health issues.
“During the COVID-19 pandemic, we should really ask ourselves what risks we are taking in leaving people under lockdown in their homes with a substance that is harmful both in terms of their health and the effects of their behavior on others, including violence,” Carina Ferreira-Borges, WHO Europe’s program manager for alcohol and illicit drugs, said in a statement.
Antonio Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations, which is the WHO’s parent organization, highlighted the grim fact that the world is witnessing a “horrifying global surge in domestic violence” amid this COVID-19 pandemic.
Americans, however, are not curbing their drinking habits. Compared to the same period last year, alcohol sales at U.S. liquor and grocery stores skyrocketed 22 percent for the week ending on March 28, according to data compiled by Nielsen. Moreover, online alcohol transactions also received a huge boost, as sales soared 243 percent, according to Nielsen.
Alcohol is responsible for 3 million deaths a year worldwide, according to the WHO.
“During this difficult time, it’s important to continue looking after your physical and mental health,” said the WHO’s Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. “This will not only help you in the long term, it will also help you fight COVID-19 if you get it.”
The global health organization also stressed that high-strength alcohol definitely does not protect an individual from COVID-19, calling such claims “a dangerous myth.”
Ethen Kim Lieser is a Tech Editor who has held posts at Google, The Korea Herald, Lincoln Journal Star, AsianWeek and Arirang TV.