Saturday 19 September, 2020

Say no to alcohol for now! 4 Myths about alcohol and COVID-19

Hold off the alcohol for now. (FILE)

Hold off the alcohol for now. (FILE)

Drinking alcohol and COVID-19 do not mix.

With the help of the World Health Organisation (WHO), let's bust some myths about the use of alcohol, liquor and spirits during this COVID-19 pandemic.

Many Caribbean people preach that "a lil alcohol nevuh kill nobody" like it's the gospel. Some islanders would even say, "rum kills de worms". No, no, no!

As part of its public health response to COVID-19, WHO has worked with partners to develop a factsheet which addresses myths and provides guidance during the pandemic.

Here are four myths that Caribbean people believe and should not:

1. "Alcohol does kill de virus" (They mean the SARS CoV-2 coronavirus which causes COVID-19)

It does not! 

Fear and misinformation have generated this dangerous myth that consuming high-strength alcohol can kill the COVID-19 virus. This is a lie.

Consuming any alcohol poses health risks, but consuming high-strength ethyl alcohol (ethanol), particularly if it has been adulterated with methanol, can result in severe health consequences, including death.

2. People with noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) can drink "in moderation" 

Alcohol consumption combined with a range of communicable and noncommunicable diseases and mental health disorders can make a person more vulnerable to COVID-19. Stop with the nightcaps. 

3. Alcohol toughens you up. "De neighbourhood drunks live long as ...."

Alcohol compromises the body’s immune system and increases the risk of adverse health outcomes. Therefore, people should minimize their alcohol consumption at any time, and particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic.

4. "He/She did always mad, alcohol ain't got nuttin to do wid it"

Alcohol is a psychoactive substance that is associated with mental disorders. That is, it affects the mind, alters brain function, and causes temporary changes in perception, mood, consciousness and behaviour.

People at risk or who have an alcohol-use disorder are particularly vulnerable, especially when in self-isolation. Medical and treatment services need to be alert and ready to respond to any person in need.

Barbados is one country that has a ban on the sale of alcohol during the COVID-19 pandemic. The ban has been in place since April 3, 2020.

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