A Buddhist monk in Thailand claimed that rice whiskey with lemon prevents COVID-19 after police caught him driving a pickup truck while intoxicated.
According to local authorities, they received a report that a monk had been “causing mayhem” by driving around and asking people for money in the market area of Thailand’s Mueang Loej district on Wednesday.
At around 9:30 a.m., officers from the Loei Provincial Police Station found 63-year-old Buddhist monk Phra Thanakorn drunk while sitting inside a bronze-colored pickup truck parked outside the market. The vehicle had the name of a Buddhist temple emblazoned on its door.
Thanakorn, whose surname was withheld in local reports, was identified as a Buddhist monk from a local temple. Upon questioning, Thanakorn admitted that he was drunk, saying that he did two shots of “40 Degrees” rice whiskey mixed with lemons before driving because he believed it helps prevent COVID-19.
A daily dose of Asian America's essential stories, in under 5 minutes.
Get our collection of Asian America's most essential stories to your inbox daily for free.
Unsure? Check out our Newsletter Archive.
On its website, the World Health Organization called such a belief a myth, warning the public that, “Drinking alcohol does not protect you against COVID-19 and can be dangerous. The harmful use of alcohol increases your risk of health problems.”
When the police asked him to exit the vehicle, the monk reportedly staggered and tried to talk but was “speaking nonsense.” He also did not have his ID card when the officers asked for it.
The police confirmed that he was indeed under the influence of alcohol after they breathalyzed him at the police station.
Thanakorn explained to the officers that he was observing the Buddhist retreat “Pansa” in the Na Din Dam subdistrict, which involves monks staying on temple grounds for three months.
The monk said that he and two other monks left the temple that morning to seek alms at the market. The other monks with him had already left, leaving Thanakorn to drive by himself as their usual driver had been in an accident.
Thanakorn’s stunt makes several offenses to monastic rules, including leaving the temple grounds during the rain retreat, asking for money, getting intoxicated and drunk driving.
Leoi’s Provincial Office of Buddhism will reportedly ask Thanakorn to leave monkhood for good due to his misdemeanors.