The World Health Organization’s (WHO) regional office in Europe on Tuesday published a report calling for people to limit their alcohol intake during the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to the WHO, an increase of alcohol consumption while countries around the world are on lockdown to prevent further spread of the disease can lead to “health vulnerability, risk-taking behaviours, mental health issues and violence.”
The organization notes that alcohol “compromises the body’s immune system and increases the risk of adverse health outcomes.”
A pandemic myth that claims consuming high-strength alcohol can kill the virus is false and can lead to fatal health consequences, the WHO says.
Alcohol consumption kills 3 million people a year, the WHO said in its statement, adding that existing laws aimed at preventing alcohol overuse, such as those that restrict access to alcohol, should not be relaxed during the pandemic.
“Alcohol is consumed in excessive quantities in the European Region, and leaves too many victims,” Carina Ferreira-Borges, manager of WHO Europe’s Alcohol and Illicit Drugs Program, said. “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.”