Anyone found to be spreading false health information or rumors about communicable diseases and epidemics like coronavirus can be fined Dh20,000, according to a decision by the UAE’s Council of Ministers.
The decision was announced via Wam, the state news agency, on April 18 2020 in light of government efforts to promote health awareness through facts, instructions and correct procedures, certified speakers and experts, and accredited government sources. The only bodies that can legally make health announcements are the Ministry of Health and Community Protection and health authorities, with the approval of the National Authority for Emergency, Crisis and Disaster Management.
The aim of the decision is to preserve the health and safety of the community and prevent the negative impact of false information on public opinion. Fines of Dh20,000 can be levied against anyone found to be repeating rumors and wrong health information.
No one can publish, republish or circulate false, misleading, misrepresented, or not officially announced health information or guidelines, or those not approved by the Ministry of Health and Community Protection or the health authority. The announcement makes it illegal to contradict what has been announced, whether on the radio, television, print, digital or social media or any other methods of publishing or trading.
Under the decision, ministries and federal and local government agencies must obtain the approval of the National Authority for Emergency, Crisis and Disaster Management before responding or commenting on any incident related to epidemics. They must nominate official speakers, who have been accredited by the UAE government in the General Secretariat of the Council Ministers.