Drinking alcohol can compromise peoples’ immune systems and make them more vulnerable to the adverse health effects of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, according to WHO. Alcohol use is also associated with diseases and mental health disorders that can make a person more likely to contract COVID-19.
“At times of lockdown during the COVID-19 pandemic, alcohol consumption can exacerbate health vulnerability, risk-taking behaviours, mental health issues and violence,” WHO noted in a press release.
The organization encouraged governments to “enforce measures which limit alcohol consumption.”
In the U.S., alcohol sales increased 55% over a one-week span last month, according to market research firm Nielsen.
Excessive drinking can cause alcohol poisoning and increase the risk of violence among intimate partners.
WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus warned earlier this month that stay-at-home orders and self-quarantining will likely lead to more domestic violence.
“Women in abusive relationships are more likely to be exposed to violence, as are their children, as family members spend more time in close contact, and families cope with additional stress and potential economic or job losses,” Tedros said.
The guidance issued earlier this week came from WHO’s European regional entity. The area has the highest alcohol intake in the world, and roughly 1 million deaths are caused by alcohol every year there.
“Alcohol is consumed in excessive quantities in the European Region, and leaves too many victims. 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 behaviour on others, including violence,” Carina Ferreira-Borges, the program manager for the region’s alcohol and illicit drugs program, said in a statement.
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