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VERIFY: No, the World Health Organization didn't reverse its stance on lockdowns

President Donald Trump tweeted that the organization switched its stance on lockdown measures. This is false.

WASHINGTON — The Verify team exists to bring you the facts because we know it's not always easy to know what's real on social media.

One of those clarifications comes from a recent tweet by President Trump, who claimed that the World Health Organization switched their stance on current lockdown measures.

"The World Health Organization just admitted that I was right. Lockdowns are killing countries all over the world," reads an Oct. 12 tweet.
A second tweet reads in part: "WHO no longer likes lockdowns, just came out against."

But is that really true? Let's Verify.

QUESTION: Did the World Health Organization reverse its stance on lockdowns?

ANSWER: No, the WHO did not change guidance on lockdowns. Its opinion has stayed consistent since April, warning that lockdowns may be necessary at times to control cases, but should be used only if necessary because of the consequences. 

The organization never declared that Trump “was right” on his COVID-19 response, either.


An emailed statement from the World Health Organization, and multiple official statements the organization released earlier this year.

We'll start with the statement. Here's what the organization said when asked about the President's tweets:

"Our position on lockdowns and other severe movement restrictions has been consistent since the beginning," it reads. "We recognize that they [lockdowns] are costly to societies, economies and individuals, but may need to be used if COVID-19 transmission is out of control. In case they are used, it should be as a last resort…"

So then is this, as President Trump claims,a change from what the organization said earlier in the pandemic?

Here's part of WHO's guidance from April 14:

"Physical distancing measures and movement restrictions, often referred to as "shut downs" and "lock downs," can slow COVID-19 transmission by limiting contact between people. However, these measures can have a profound negative impact on individuals, communities, and societies by bringing social and economic life to a near stop."

The report continues to state that for countries that have introduced "widespread physical distancing measures and population-level movement restrictions, there is an urgent need to plan for a phased transition away from such restrictions in a manner that will enable the sustainable suppression of transmission at a low-level whilst enabling the resumption of some parts of economic and social life."

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That guidance remained the same a few months later, at this briefing on July 13.

"We need to reach a sustainable situation where we have adequate control of this virus without shutting down our lives entirely, or lurching from lockdown to lockdown; which has a hugely detrimental impact on societies."

So we can Verify that the World Health Organization guidelines for lockdowns has stayed consistent since April.

RELATED: VERIFY: Yes, COVID-19 has killed more Americans in 8 months than the flu in 5 years