In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, a viral message is being shared on social media claiming to be 'set of protocol & procedures for periods for controlling on the most dangerous virus' issued by the World Health Organisation (WHO). The viral message also tries to establish a relationship between the duration of lockdowns to the eradication of COVID-19. The content of the message is seen below in the below screenshot (Whatsapp).
The Logical Indian has received several requests to fact-check these messages on our WhatsApp number.
Further, a keyword search led to several similar posts on Facebook and Twitter.
On Further Search, we found a WordPress blog with the same viral message. The Blog is owned by a person called Shiva R, who claims to be a System Administrator at a private technical training centre, currently living in Odisha, India. However, the blog did not contain any sources or citations authenticating the content.
A standard set of protocol and procedures of lockdown exists and is being followed by the Indian Government.
The claim is false.
'Lockdown alone will not extinguish COVID-19: WHO'.
On 25 March 2020, the WHO Director-General, Tedros Adhanom, in a Hindustan Times video, is seen stating that lockdown alone cannot eradicate the COVID-19 virus. Instead WHO outlined six steps that any country can take, regardless of its size or scenario, to fight the virus:
1. Expand, train and deploy your public health force.
2. Implement a system to find every suspected case.
3. Ramp up testing capacity and availability.
4. Identify and adapt key facilities you will use to treat and isolate patients.
5. Develop a clear plan to quarantine contacts.
6. Refocus the whole of the government on suppression and containing COVID-19.
Further, WHO's the document on 'Critical preparedness, readiness and response actions for COVID-19' fails to even mention the word ''Lockdown''. The document talks extensively on isolation, testing, and Quarantine but doesn't contain any protocols or procedures on 'Lockdown'. The document can be downloaded
After traversing through similar WHO documents on other infectious diseases such as Ebola, we found no mention of 'Lockdown' or 'Lockdown Protocols'. Similarly, WHO's 'International Health Regulations' - the foremost document on how "to prevent, protect against, control and provide a public health response to the international spread of disease in ways that are commensurate with and restricted to public health risks, and which avoid unnecessary interference with international traffic and trade" makes no mention to any kind of standardized protocol and procedures on 'Lockdown'.
Further, when Dale Fisher- chair of the WHO Global Outbreak Alert and Response Network was asked about lockdowns related to COVID-19, he responded by saying, "Countries under lockdown should do what Singapore has done to blunt the spread of the COVID-19……. I think there is a playbook and it's being played in Singapore, Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and China…so other countries that are locking down will need to look at several months to get the systems in place so they can then unlock slowly."
The current 21-day lockdown period was chosen based on available empirical scientific and epidemiological based data on the other pandemic diseases. Such a quarantine period was also addressed in Ebola. The duration is based on a human host's incubation period.
However, there is no scientific data to back the sequence of lockdown durations (21 days, 28 days & 15 days) stated in the message. As stated by WHO, the lockdown alone doesn't guarantee eradication of COVID-19. We were unable to find any data that substantiates the 5-day relaxation period in between lockdowns claimed by the message.
We can ascertain that the viral WhatsApp message makes a false claim to a WHO mandated standardized protocol and procedures for the duration of the control of dangerous viruses. At a time when misinformation and stigma surrounding COVID-19 has led to hostility towards doctors and airline crews, as well as the Northeast Indians. Such messages could lead to unjustified speculation, which would hinder our fight against COVID-19 disease. Help the fight by staying at home and maintaining social distance.
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