The Ministry of Interior (MOI) warns that anyone who spreads rumours and false information on social media about COVID-19 in the country will be punished, in accordance with the UAE Cybercrime Law. The Ministry also urges everyone to act responsibly.
To get the latest updates in the UAE, you can visit the website of the Ministry of Health and Prevention or the Dubai Health Authority.
Spreading Fake News About COVID-19 Can Land You in Jail
The MOI stated that anyone who is found guilty of spreading false information would have to pay fines up to AED 3 million and spend three years up to life in jail, Khaleej Times reported.
Aside from breaking the law, people who spread such rumours tend to “exaggerate” the number of COVID-19 cases in the country, causing fear and unnecessary panic among the public, the Ministry explained.
Recently, several institutions in the UAE have clarified rumours about supposedly new cases of COVID-19, after false information circulated on social media.
In Abu Dhabi, for example, Zayed University denied rumours about a case of COVID-19 infection in the university. The institution called on the public to stop sharing fake news, which may scare university students and staff.
Moreover, the MOI stated that reliable information about COVID-19 cases in the country is released only by official health authorities. It also advised everyone to follow the guidelines and precautionary measures issued by the Ministry of Health and Prevention (MOHAP).
The Ministry called on citizens and residents not to share unverified “news” about COVID-19 in the UAE, and to follow the social media channels of official authorities and mainstream media for correct information.
Last month, Dubai Police officials also warned against spreading false information that could affect the reputation and national security of the UAE, including fake news about COVID-19.
“Do not spread disinformation and misinformation [about COVID-19],” stated Dubai Police – Smart Police Station (SPS) official Lt. Khalid Mohammad Banasser, as cited by Gulf Today.
“Like you are in a metro station and someone collapses and you start posting [on social media] and spreading about this person,” he said. “Do not spread any [false and unverified] information that will damage the reputation of the UAE, especially now that Expo2020 Dubai is here; anything that is going to affect the national security of the country.”
The official declared these statements during the “Dubai Police – Philippine Consulate General in Dubai and the Northern Emirates (PCGDNE) Community Forum on Cybercrimes and Emergency Preparedness,” which was held last 29th February at the Dubai Police Officers Club.
COVID-19: Latest Numbers Worldwide
As of this writing, Channel News Asia reports that there is a total of 117,864 confirmed cases and 4,263 reported deaths dues to COVID-19 worldwide. Majority of these are in mainland China (where the virus originated), Italy, Iran, and South Korea.
At present, there are 59 confirmed COVID-19 cases in the UAE. In the Philippines, there are currently 33 confirmed cases and one reported death due to the coronavirus.
Indeed, spreading false information about COVID-19 will only trigger unnecessary fear and panic. So be sure to trust only official sources and follow the social media rules in the UAE. In addition, check out these tips for avoiding the novel coronavirus.