Relatives and family members mourn after they received the body of a patient who died of Covid-19 coronavirus at a mortuary in New Delhi. (AFP / Sajjad Hussain)

Hoax online report shares 'WHO's virus death toll warning for India'

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Multiple Facebook and Twitter posts claim the World Health Organization (WHO) has warned of 50,000 daily deaths in India as it battles a surge in Covid-19 cases. The claim is false: the WHO said it did not issue the purported warning; its daily tally shows some 4,000 people are dying every day from the virus in India as of May 2021.

“WHO ICMR warns India that the next 72 hours are crucial as India expects 50,000 Covid deaths per day,” reads a Hindi-language Facebook post shared here on May 8, 2021.

“People will die every day, today 4000 people died.”

“ICMR” is the acronym for the Indian Council of Medical Research, the country’s leading biomedical research agency.

A screenshot taken on May 13, 2021 of the misleading post.

The post circulated online as India struggles to contain one of the worst Covid-19 outbreaks in the world with thousands dying every day, AFP reported.

Many experts believe the official numbers of people dying in India, which has one of the world's most poorly funded health care systems, are an underestimate, AFP reported here.

A similar claim was also shared on Facebook here, here, and here; and on Twitter here, here and here.

The claim, however, is false. 

The WHO said it did not issue the purported warning in this statement posted on Twitter on April 6, 2021.

“A video claiming WHO has warned of 50,000 Covid-19 death in India by 15 April is FAKE NEWS. WHO has NOT issued any such warning,” the agency said in the statement. 

India’s Press Information Bureau (PIB) also said the claim is false in this advisory posted on Twitter on April 6.

“This claim is false. Please do not forward such misleading videos or messages,” the PIB said.

Multiple keyword searches on the WHO’s official website did not find the purported warning.

As of May 17, 2021, WHO’s tally shows some 4,000 people are dying in India every day from the disease.

COVID-19