A bird looks out from its cage in a Chinese city
Bird flu is a concern for the WHO. But the global body has not called for elections to be cancelled. Image by AP PHOTO

Bonkers bird flu election claim is fabricated nonsense

Tom Wark June 30, 2024

The World Health Organization (WHO) has ordered governments to cancel elections because of the recent bird flu outbreak.


False. The WHO has made no such statement.

AAP FACTCHECK – The World Health Organization (WHO) has ordered governments to cancel upcoming elections due to bird flu, according to spurious claims on social media.

This is false. The WHO has not made any statements regarding international elections and the current threat to humans from avian influenza is low.

The claim appears in many posts sharing an article from The People’s Voice, a website AAP FactCheck has checked multiple times in the past.

Facebook post saying WHO ordered elections cancelled due to bird flu.
 Facebook users are parroting the false People’s Voice article in their posts.  

The headline reads: “WHO Warns Bird Flu Outbreak Means Govt’s Must ‘Cancel Upcoming Elections’.”

The article continues: “The World Health Organization (WHO) has ordered governments worldwide to cancel upcoming elections and prepare to rollout strict lockdowns due to a Bird Flu “disease outbreak emergency”.

“In a [sic] urgent notice posted to its website, the WHO claims that Bird Flu is set to become the next Pandemic, and will be deadlier than COVID.”

The notice referred to is available on the WHO website, titled “Avian Influenza A (H5N2) – Mexico“.

It was published in response to reports of a man in Mexico who died after contracting the H5N2 strain of bird flu.

In the notice, the WHO makes no mention of elections or any comparison between the current circulating strain of avian influenza and COVID-19.

In a statement to AAP FactCheck, a WHO spokesperson confirmed the claim was false.

People voting in Lindsay for the Federal Election in Sydney
 The WHO has not called for any elections to be cancelled. 

“WHO has not ordered governments to cancel elections, and cannot,” the spokesperson said.

In relation to the virus’s characteristics when compared with COVID-19, the spokesperson said: “WHO made no comparison between the new avian influenza strain and COVID-19 in its Disease Outbreak News.”

The statement also said that while the current risk to public health remains low because “it does not appear to be affecting many people or spreading easily”, the latest outbreak of bird flu is still of concern.

“Avian influenza virus infections in humans may cause mild to severe upper respiratory tract infections and can be fatal.”

Chickens poke their heads out of factory farm  cages in Maine
 Chickens in commercial farms are being destroyed because of the virus.  

The claims come at a time when Australia has seen an outbreak of a different strain of bird flu – the highly pathogenic H7N3 – at five Victorian poultry farms.

One case of the H5N1 strain seen in other countries has been brought into Australia by humans, but no cases have been detected in humans in Australia from the outbreak in Victoria.

ACT authorities are also currently investigating a suspected case of bird flu in a commercial Canberran egg farm.

Meanwhile, Reuters has reported that Finland is set to become the first country to offer preemptive bird flu vaccinations to some of its agriculture workers in the near future.

AAP FactCheck has previously debunked several claims about the WHO, often regarding falsehoods about its powers to infringe on nations’ sovereignty.

Logically Facts has also debunked the election claim.

The Verdict

The claim that the WHO has ordered governments to cancel elections due to the current bird flu outbreak is false.

The WHO has no power over how and when countries conduct elections and it has made no statements recommending that any elections should be cancelled due to the bird flu outbreak.

False – The claim is inaccurate.

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