It’s the weekend, which for means for most people, turning off those laptops and grabbing a nice cool beer or a glass of vino. During these times of quarantine, it can become a relaxant from the stresses of self-isolation and a way to kick back with friends and family over Zoom, Houseparty or FaceTime. But now, the World Health Organization (WHO) has issued a statement and factsheet which outlines reasons why we should not be drinking during the Coronavirus outbreak.
The statement claims that there has been ‘fear and misinformation spread’ around alcohol helping to kill the COVID-19 virus – and have stated emphatically that it ‘does not’. In fact, research shows that alcohol consumption can have adverse health risks, lowing the strength of your immune system (making you more susceptible to the virus), exacerbating health vulnerability, risk-taking behaviours (i.e. going outside and potentially infecting others), mental health issues and even violent behaviour. We know it’s tempting to finish that bottle of vino when there’s just less than a glass-worth in the bottle, but according to science, we’re better off without.
The WHO’s guidelines, laid out in the factsheet, have advised European governments to limit alcohol consumption during this period – saying it can undermine immune systems at a time when it needs to be working at its utmost best. Alcohol can be a cue to social smoke, too, which can make COVID-19 more complicated and incite dangerous progression of the disease. We’ve all have that urge to have a crafty ciggie after a few bevvies, but now might be a great time to curb the habit.
But, “what about my glass of vino to relax after the kids have driven me up the wall?”. Well, the WHO has advised that alcohol consumption can also have adverse effects on your mental health, increasing symptoms of panic and anxiety disorders, depression and other mental disorders – as well as increasing the risk of domestic violence (an issue that has increased by double during the lockdown period, according to the Counting Dead Women project).
Carina Ferreira-Borges, Programme Manager, Alcohol and Illicit Drugs Programme, WHO/Europe. has said, “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.”
Make sure you are taking care of yourselves and everyone around you during this period. If you feel like any of the issues listed on the WHO’s factsheet ring home, make sure that you take note of their advice and limit your alcohol intake over this period.