No, WHO Did Not Do A U-Turn On Masks, Social Distancing

Viral social media posts claim WHO has made a 'u-turn' on advising people to wear masks and maintain social distancing.

A social media message has gone viral that claims the World Health Organisation is advocating against practising social distancing and wearing masks. This claim is sometimes accompanied by a short video clip of the COVID-19 technical lead, Dr Maria Van Kerkhove, saying that, "It actually seems rare that an asymptomatic person can actually transmit (coronavirus) onward to a secondary individual."

BOOM found that WHO had not issued such a message and Dr Kerkhove's statement was taken out of context.

Viral posts are going around with the message, "The WHO has done a complete u-turn... where the head of the organisation says that now we should be following the Swedish model. So it's absolutely incredible news because the lockdown can end immediately. We can go back to work, we can take the stupid masks off, which were never needed in the first place... ". An archive of the article is available here.


Similar posts are viral with the title of 'Breaking News.' An archive of the article is available here.

The second part of the viral post is a comment by WHO's COVID-19 technical lead, Dr Van Kerkhove, saying that, "It actually seems rare that an asymptomatic person actually transmits (novel coronavirus) onward to a secondary individual." An archive of the post is available here.

Fact Check

The first part of the post, which claims that WHO has taken a 'complete u-turn' from advising people to practise social distancing and not wear masks can be quickly verified as false.

WHO had updated its COVID-19 advice on June 5 and had asked people to wear masks. WHO's technical lead expert on COVID-19, Dr Van Kerkhove, said, "We are advising governments to encourage that the general public wears a mask. And we specify a fabric mask - that is, a non-medical mask."


The World Health Organization has taken a complete U turn and said that asymptomatic Corona patients neither need to be isolated nor quarantined, nor social of distance, and it cannot even transmit from one patient to another....#COVID19 pic.twitter.com/YFhn61chSf

Since then WHO has issued several notices on its websites and social media handles advocating the use of wearing masks and maintaining social distancing. Even the recent tweet dated July 16 clearly urges people to wear masks and maintain social distancing.

BOOM has reached out to the WHO for a comment on this post and will update the copy with a reply.

The viral video of the statement is a piece from the US channel US Newsmax, where the reporter Greg Kelly and Dr David Samadi interpreted this as WHO's official statement that asymptomatic people don't need to follow social distancing or wear masks.

The second part where the viral video of WHO's technical lead, Dr Kekhove states in a June 8 press conference that "It actually seems rare that an asymptomatic person actually transmits (novel coronavirus) onward to a secondary individual."

Also just before her statement on asymptomatic people not being a source of transmission, she talks about social distancing in the press conference.

There are lots of things that we want to be doing right now, but they aren't necessarily what we need to be doing right now - please make good choices.

There's so much you can do to protect yourself from getting infected and from passing #COVID19 on to others.
-Dr @mvankerkhove pic.twitter.com/0hyAivUelA

In a press conference on June 9, Dr Kerkhove clarified her position and stated that her statement about asymptomatic transmission was taken out of context. She was referring to a few studies that stated asymptomatic transmission is rare.


Updated On: 2020-09-15T12:36:58+05:30
Claim Review :   WHO has made a u-turn on its policy of advising people to wear masks and maintain social distancing.
Claimed By :  Social media posts
Fact Check :  False
Show Full Article
Next Story