False: WHO changes course; No need to quarantine infected people

A twitter post purportedly showing that the WHO said that coronavirus patients require neither quarantine nor social distancing because “It cannot even transmit from one patient to another” was posted on July 4, and went viral, being retweeted over 2,800 times. This tweet introduced tweet by American radio personality John B Wells in Japanese with a video of the WHO’s June 8th regular press conference.

Screenshot from Twitter

In this video, Maria Van Kerkhove, WHO’s director for COVID-19, tells the conference that “From the data we have, it still seems to be rare that an asymptomatic person actually transmits onward to a secondary individual.” There was no mention of not needing to “quarantine infected people”, “self-isolate” or “maintain social distancing.”

After Ms. Van Kerkhove’s remarks, some experts succeeded in pointing out that cases of infection from asymptomatic people are not necessarily rare.  Ms. Van Kerkhove actually then amended her statement the next day. The WHO still advises people to “maintain at least 1 metre (3 feet) distance between yourself and others” and to “Stay home and self-isolate even with minor symptoms such as cough, headache, mild fever, until you recover” on its official website and it is clear that the WHO has not changed its views.

Therefore, the tweet claiming that the WHO has changed its views to that the “quarantine of infected people was unnecessary” is judged to be false.

The original fact-checking report in Japanese is here.

(Yoichiro Tateiwa, Rei Ofuna)

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