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Fact Check: A fake audio-clip being widely circulated regarding lock-down in India amid Coronavirus outbreak

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An audio clip of a phone conversation with false claims is being widely circulated on social media to misinform people. The claim that the WHO has suggested a lockdown in India between 1st April to 15th June is false. 

Amid the increasing number of Coronavirus cases in India, a 9-minutes-long audio clip of a phone conversation between two individuals is being widely circulated on WhatsApp with a message claiming that World Health Organisation (WHO) has advised the Government of India to observe complete lockdown of the country from April 15 to June 15 and that the same will be done by the Indian government. 

The message reads with the audio clip reads "Don’t know how true this is. But if something like this actually happens, the situation is going to worsen. Everyone should listen.” (Translated from Hindi)

You can listen to the clip here:

The caller asserts that he is friends with “Saurabh, the brother of WHO India director.” He further claims, "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." (Translated from Hindi)

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 same audio clip is now being shared on Facebook as well with the same message. 

The truth behind the claim 

In our investigation, we found that WHO does not have a country-wise director but a representative for member states. The representative can be regarded as the country head.  Since the called in the audio clip refers to the director as female and Indian, 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. Contrary to the claim made in the audio, she was a civil servant and not associated with AIIMS.

Moreover,  the fact-check wing of the Press Information Bureau (PIB) also called-out the misinformation that a complete lockdown will be observed in India.

In conclusion, an audio clip of a phone conversation with false claims is being widely circulated on social media to misinform people. The claim that the WHO has suggested a lockdown in India between 1st April to 15th June is false. 

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