An audio clip is of a phone conversation between two individuals is circulating on social media and messaging applications where a man claims that the World Health Organisation (WHO) has advised the Government of India to observe complete lockdown of the country from April 15 to June 15. The same has been accepted by GOI, he claims and asserts that he is friends with “Saurabh, the brother of WHO India director.”
“Saurabh told me that the WHO prescribed that the government locks down all cinema halls till April 15 but the government thought this will create panic so they ordered shutdown till March 31. A week later, they [WHO] sent a report to the government that India should be in lockdown from April 15 to June 15 because we are now at high risk. No shops will remain open, only police and hospitals. They send a report every four days…it is possible that the lockdown starts from 1st.”
The man also claimed that the WHO director told Saurabh to inform his friends to complete all bank-related work in the next eight days and hoard ration that can last up to 1.5-2 months. The person also makes a reference to Ram Navmi celebrations that were cancelled in Uttar Pradesh, which hints that the conversation was recorded today.
The audio clip is circulating with messages such as: “पता नही कहा तक सच है लेकिन अगर ऐसा है तो बहुत बुरी स्थिति आने वाली है। सभी लोग जरूर सुने। (Don’t know how true this is. But if something like this actually happens, the situation is going to worsen. Everyone should listen).”
WHO does not have a country-wise director but a representative for member states. The representative can be regarded as the country head. The representative to India is Hank Bekedam, a Dutch national. Since the man in the viral audio refers to the director as female, it is possible he was talking about Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh, who is the regional director of South East Asia. She is an Indian national and the first woman to hold the post.
Alt News contacted the office of WHO in India and was told by the communications team that the claim made in the audio is false.
Furthermore, the fact-check wing of Press Information Bureau (PIB) also called-out the misinformation that a complete lockdown will be observed in India.
— PIB Fact Check (@PIBFactCheck) March 20, 2020
A man therefore made false claims in a phone conversation and attempted to give credence to the misinformation by referencing WHO.