FACT CHECK: Does The WHO No Longer Recommend Isolation, Quarantine Or Social Distancing For COVID-19?

Brad Sylvester | Fact Check Editor

A post shared on Facebook claims the World Health Organization (WHO) no longer recommends isolation, quarantine or social distancing because COVID-19 cannot transmit from person to person.

Verdict: False

The WHO has not “completely taken a U-turn” on its guidance for isolation, quarantine and social distancing and continues to recommend such measures for COVID-19 mitigation. It also continues to state that COVID-19 transmits from person to person.

Fact Check:

The WHO has provided public health guidance on how to protect against the spread of COVID-19 during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. (RELATED: Viral Image Claims To Show WHO Lockdown Guidelines)

In recent weeks, some Facebook users have alleged the WHO has “completely taken a U-turn” and now recommends that a “Corona patient neither needs to be isolated, nor quarantined.” Such posts also claim the WHO has said social distancing is not necessary because the virus supposedly cannot transmit from person to person.

That is, however, incorrect. The WHO still recommends isolation and quarantine as “methods of preventing the spread of COVID-19” on its website. Isolation means separating people that exhibit COVID-19 symptoms or that test positive for the virus from other individuals, while quarantine means separating people who have been exposed to COVID-19 through close contact with infected individuals from others, according to the WHO.

In the “Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19): How is it transmitted?” section of its website, the WHO describes COVID-19 as an infectious disease “caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which spreads between people, mainly when an infected person is in close contact with another person.” The organization continues to advise, among other measures, maintaining “at least a 1-metre distance between yourself and others to reduce your risk of infection when they cough, sneeze or speak.”

Some social media users making the erroneous claim shared with it a video clip of the WHO’s Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove from early June. In the video clip, Kerkhove says, “From the data we have, it still seems rare that an asymptomatic person actually transmits onwards to a secondary individual.”

Kerkhove clarified the following day that she was referencing a “subset of studies” and wasn’t “stating a policy of WHO,” saying, “I used the phrase ‘very rare,’ and I think that’s misunderstanding to state that asymptomatic transmission globally is very rare. What I was referring to was a subset of studies.”

“We do know that some people who are asymptomatic or some people who don’t have symptoms can transmit the virus on,” she also added.

The WHO did not return a request for comment.

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Brad Sylvester

Fact Check Editor
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