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WHO: Drinking alcohol can make coronavirus worse, consumption should be limited

People should minimize their alcohol consumption, particularly during the current pandemic, the World Health Organization said this week.

WASHINGTON — Drinking too much alcohol can increase a person's risk of being infected with COVID-19 and heighten their symptoms, according to the World Health Organization. It recommends governments start to enforce measures to limit alcohol consumption.

“Alcohol compromises the body’s immune system and increases the risk of adverse health outcomes,” the WHO’s regional office for Europe said on Tuesday. It "weakens the immune system and thus reduces the ability to cope with infectious diseases."

Alcohol consumption is associated with a range of communicable and noncommunicable diseases and mental health disorders, which can make a person more vulnerable to COVID-19, according to the WHO. 

WHO noted alcohol may also put those with mental health struggles and a history of alcohol-use disorders at a greater risk due to increased self-isolation. It may also raise the risk of domestic violence.

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"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,” said Carina Ferreira-Borges, Programme Manager, Alcohol and Illicit Drugs Programme, WHO/Europe.

The organization's fact sheet claims that there is no real "safe limit" of drinking alcohol since the damage caused to someone's organs increases with every drink.

According to a Nielson study, alcohol sales in the United States were up 22% for the week ending March 28, 2020. It highlighted that sales are still much greater than normal at this time of year. 

The WHO report also dispelled the myth that alcohol could kill coronavirus in someone's body. It will not disinfect someone's mouth or throat, and it will not give anyone protection against the virus, the report stated. 

"The most important point to remember: In no way will consumption of alcohol protect you from COVID-19 or prevent you from being infected by it," the WHO fact sheet said.

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