Kenyan Governor Faces Backlash For Including Hennessy In Coronavirus Relief Packages
Mike Sonko said the alcohol can kill the virus, which was disputed by the World Health Organization as well as Hennessy.
April 17, 2020 at 3:35 pm
A Kenyan politician is facing backlash after including an unexpected item in coronavirus care packages.
Governor of Nairobi, Mike Sonko, has put small bottles of Hennessy in care packages distributed to the city's impoverished residents. During a briefing on Tuesday, Sonko said the alcohol can be used as “throat sanitizer,” reports CNN.
"I think from the research conducted by the World Health Organization and various organizations, it has been believed that alcohol plays a major role in killing the coronavirus," he said.
“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
Since his comments, a number of organizations and people have disputed his claims that liquor can have that effect.
The World Health Organization has said alcohol does not protect from the virus and actually advises countries to reinforce liquor regulations.
Hennessy has also denied Sonko’s claims that their product can help fight off the virus.
“Hennessy would like to stress that the consumption of our brand or any other alcoholic beverage does not protect against the virus,” a statement obtained by Nairobi News read. “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.”
Githinji Gitahi, global CEO of African Medical Research Foundation Health Africa, denounced Sonko’s statement and urged Kenyans to “dump this the way you would dump your used #COVID19 #mask – never to be recovered!”
Please completely ignore clowning ???? of a major global pandemic taking lives & putting extreme pressure on households. 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! pic.twitter.com/6Lsu0DXvzV
— Dr Githinji Gitahi, MBS (@daktari1) April 15, 2020
Many are also upset the governor is including the alcohol in the care packages rather than providing essential items such as protective equipment.
Just Imagine how many Face Masks can be bought from the Money that Hon. Mike Sonko used to buy Hennessey. The Leadership we have in Kenya sometimes just breaks my heart. Wueh!
— BRAVIN YURI (@BravinYuri) April 16, 2020
This is wild????????♂️.
The governor of Nairobi, Kenya @MikeSonko announced that are giving “small bottles of Hennessy” in food packs being distributed to the city’s poor families amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Because Alcohol kills Covid19. Don’t believe me just watch ???????? pic.twitter.com/8IzFWnjdTa
— King of Leon. (@MightiJamie) April 16, 2020
WHO: Alcohol based sanitizers kills corona virus.
Mike Sonko: Say no more. I shall Hennessey the city to fumigate the people's stomach. pic.twitter.com/VCuV9Gszhb
— It's Wycky ???????? (@wycky_) April 16, 2020
— willo (@WilliamMugo4) April 14, 2020
In addition to the cognac, the care packages also include hand sanitizer, maize, cleaning products and household items, reports Daily Mail.
Last week, Kenya banned unofficial direct distribution of food items in vulnerable communities after a stampede broke out and killed two people during a distribution at the Kibra District Office. Interior Minister Fred Matiang'i said all donations must be coordinated through the Kenya COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund, reports Anadolu Agency.
Sonko has asked the government to repeal their ban and has continued to donate care packages.
“We've been doing this initiative for the last 20 years. I was doing this and there have not been any problems reported when we are doing this food distribution,” he said. “So we are appealing to the government that they should consider their directive which they have issued. People with reputable reputation, people who have done this before like us, who should be allowed to continue to distribute food to our people.”
— Mike Sonko (@MikeSonko) April 14, 2020
The 45-year-old has been working through his foundation, Sonko Rescue Team, as he has been temporarily relieved of his governor duties due to charges of money laundering, accepting bribes and conflict of interest, reports Al Jazeera. He and his associates were accused of misappropriating $3.5 million. Sonko pleaded not guilty and said his arrest was politically motivated.
Despite his pending trial, Sonko has been documenting his donations on his Twitter account.
— Mike Sonko (@MikeSonko) April 11, 2020
According to Worldometer, Kenya has 246 coronavirus cases and 11 deaths.