The World Health Organization said that consuming alcohol raises your risk of contracting COVID-19 and will also make matters worse if you do get infected. They are asking governments around the world to limit their citizens access to alcohol for the duration of the pandemic, according to CNBC.
“Alcohol compromises the body’s immune system and increases the risk of adverse health outcomes,” according to the WHO’s European website. The site also note that Europe has a particularly high rate of alcohol consumption.
One of the WHO's concerns is that alcohol consumption can aggravate preexisting mental health conditions. It can also increase the likelihood of risk-taking behaviour and in some cases lead to violence, which is a particular concern for the countries that have brought in social distancing measures that force their populations to stay at home.
The WHO also set out to clear up the “dangerous myth that consuming high-strength alcohol can kill” the coronavirus, publishing a fact sheet to disprove it. They say that alcohol contributes to about 3 million death annually and that those numbers are likely to increase with the pandemic ramping up consumption.
“Therefore, people should minimize their alcohol consumption at any time, and particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic,” the website said.
Conversely, in the United States, people are buying in bulk. Alcohol sales have gone up 22 percent for the week ending March 28 when compared to the same week a year ago. There has also been an increase of Americans drinking at home.
WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus spoke about ways to limit stress and anxiety during quarantine last month. “It’s normal to feel stressed, confused and scared during a crisis. Talking to people you know and trust can help,” said Tedros. “And try not to read or watch too much news if it makes you anxious. Get your information from reliable sources once or twice a day.”
“During this difficult time, it’s important to continue looking after your physical and mental health. This will not only help you in the long term, it will also help you fight COVID-19 if you get it,” said Tedros.