Residents in Kenya’s capital city of Nairobi may have received bottles of alcohol to help them during the global pandemic. Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko is facing criticism after including small bottles of Hennessy to coronavirus care packages distributed to residents on Tuesday (April 14).
According to Sonko, “research” conducted by the World Health Organization and “various health organizations,” concluded that “alcohol plays a very major role in killing the coronavirus or any type of virus.”
“We will have some small bottles of Hennessy in the food packs that we will be giving to our people…” – Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko
Note: WHO warns that drinking alcohol does not protect you against COVID-19 and can be dangerous pic.twitter.com/vuSuVAb8dy
— Citizen TV Kenya (@citizentvkenya) April 14, 2020
Cognac might make it easier to endure quarantine, but it’s definitely not a vaccine for COVID-19. In fact, the WHO has said that drinking alcohol may increase the risk of contracting coronavirus as over consumption can weaken a person’s immune system and overall health.
With 255 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Kenya, Sonko caught backlash for potentially endangering the lives of residents by spreading false information. Dr. Githinji Gitahi, CEO of the medical nonprofit Amref Health Africa, urged residents not to listen to Sonko and asked that Kenya’s ministry of health condemn his words.
The Kenyan Medical Association tweeted a “myth busters” graphic reiterating that, “Drinking alcohol DOES NOT protect you against COVID-19 and can be dangerous.”
— Kenya Medical Association (@KenyaMedics_KMA) April 17, 2020
Hennessy also denied Sonko’s claims. “Hennessy would like to stress that the consumption of our brand or any other alcoholic beverage does not protect against the virus,” the company said in a statement.
“In line with the WHO and Ministry of Health of Kenya, Hennessy advises on washing hands regularly with soap and water or hydro-alcoholic gels, wearing face masks, practicing social distancing and staying at home.”