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.

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!”


Many are also upset the governor is including the alcohol in the care packages rather than providing essential items such as protective equipment. 




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.”

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.

According to Worldometer, Kenya has 246 coronavirus cases and 11 deaths.