Kenyan Governor Mike Sonko's decision of including mini bottles of Hennessy, a cognac, in the care package being offered to people under lockdown due to coronavirus, has drawn mixed reactions on social media.
Terming alcohol as 'throat sanitizer', Sonko hit international headlines following his announcement a few days ago. So far, Kenya has reported 246 confirmed cases of coronavirus and 11 deaths.
Sonko believes alcohol can kill any virus
The package includes food, hand sanitizer, masks, cleaning products, and other household basics, along with 100 ml bottles of Hennessy. The company that distills the famous French brandy has its headquarters in Cognac, France.
In a video clip that has gone viral on social media, Sonko could be heard justifying his decision of including cognac in the COVD-19 care package: "From the research which has been conducted by World Health Organization and other health organizations, alcohol plays a big role in killing the coronavirus and any sort of virus."
Going a step further to assert his point, Sonko, while referring to the presence of alcohol in hand sanitizers and its disinfectant properties, said: "If you take any sanitizer and check the alcohol content, you'll find this to be true."
However, in a post released this week, the World Health Organisation had warned people against drinking alcohol during lockdown. "At times of lockdown during the COVID-19 pandemic, alcohol consumption can exacerbate health vulnerability, risk-taking behaviours, mental health issues and violence. WHO/Europe reminds people that drinking alcohol does not protect them from COVID-19, and encourages governments to enforce measures which limit alcohol consumption."
Hennessey washes its hand of Sonko's statement
Refuting the role of alcohol in curing or protecting against coronavirus, Hennessy's country manager, Anne-Claire Delamarre, in a statement released to Nairobi News said: "Our attention has been drawn to a video circulating across different media channels on Tuesday 14 of April 2020, alleging that the consumption of Hennessy helps to fight Covid-19."
"Hennessy would like to stress that the consumption of our brand or any other alcoholic beverage does not protect against the virus. 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," added the French distiller.
Twitter fires away
Condemning Sonko's statement, Dr. Githinji Gitahi, the CEO of Amref Health Africa, tweeted: "Please completely ignore clowning of a major global pandemic taking lives & putting extreme pressure on households," he wrote. "Dump this the way you would dump your used #COVID19 #mask — never to be recovered! @MOH_Kenya needs to condemn this as this is not an ordinary citizen!"
"Some Americans on twitter want Mike Sonko to run WHO after Hennessy thing! Haha ha, @realDonaldTrump give Sonko the dough," commented a user.
"My governor is a legend. Hennessy will remove any covid_19 virus left on the throat. Haters stay one side and allow us to take our relief package in peace please #Nairobi #covid19kenya #MikeSonko I love you sonko," expressed another user.