As the coronavirus spreads rapidly around the globe, fake news is also is being circulated at the same rate by miscreants, causing increased chaos and fear among the public. One such piece of news is the one that claims the World Health Organisation has extended the lockdown period till June to tackle COVID-19.
However, it was found to be nothing but a fake piece of news. WHO authorities too clarified that the news was fake, and they have not announced any plan of extending the lockdown.
What was the fake message?
The message related to the revised protocols by WHO to battle the COVID-19 pandemic started as a WhatsApp message and soon turned into a twitter feed. The content showed the four stages of the lockdown strategy suggested by the organisation. It also included the logo of the WHO to grant authenticity.
The message starts with a warning against the 'most dangerous virus'. "WORLD HEALTH ORGANISATION PROTOCOL & PROCEDURE OF LOCKDOWN PERIODS FOR CONTROLLING ON MOST DANGEROUS VIRUS," the message says before it lays down the lockdown protocol.
One-day lockdown will be observed in the first phase, followed by a 21-day lockdown in the second phase. Following a relaxation period of five days, stage 3 of the plan will be introduced. It includes a lockdown period of 28 days beginning from April 20 till May 18.
The third stage will again follow a relaxation of five days, followed by the final stage including another lockdown of 15 days ending on June 10. The message created chaos in the South Asian countries, especially India, which is already under a 21-day lockdown period ending April 14.
How did the message originate?
It is believed that the message was based on the study published by two Indian-origin researchers, Ronojoy Adhikari and Rajesh Singh, working at the Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics at the University of Cambridge in the UK.
According to Business Standard, their paper titled Age-structured impact of social distancing on the COVID-19 epidemic in India speaks about the new mathematical model, predicting a flat 49-day nationwide lockdown require to stem the COVID-19 resurgence in India. The paper says that the 21-day lockdown being observed in India will be ineffective and 'there will be a resurgence of COVID-19 at the end of it'.
'Our model suggests sustained periods of lockdown with periodic relaxation will reduce the number of cases to levels where individualised social contact tracing and quarantine may become feasible,' concludes the paper, which was published on open-access preprint repository ArXiv.
WHO denies sending any lockdown strategies
The viral message was enough to send people into a tizzy who took to social media platforms seeking answers. However, the official handle of WHO-South East Asia clarified that the message being circulated was fake and baseless.
"Messages being circulated on social media as WHO protocol for lockdown are baseless and FAKE. WHO does NOT have any protocols for lockdowns," the world body tweeted. So far, India has recorded more than 4,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus and 109 deaths.