UAE to fine citizens up to $5,500 for COVID-19 fake news

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The United Arab Emirates will fine citizens up to 20,000 dirhams ($5,500) if they share fake news related to the coronavirus, officials said Saturday.

The UAE announced that individuals who share false medical information about COVID-19 that contradicts official statements will be fined $5,500 due to the disruption of “true” health information.

The country’s government made it clear that the health ministry and other state health institutions are responsible for distributing “true” information about the disease, and it is forbidden to publish, republish or circulate medical information or guidance that is false.

“It is forbidden for any individual to publish, republish or circulate medical information or guidance that is false, misleading or hasn’t been announced officially … using print, audiovisual or social media, or online websites or any other way of publication or circulation,” state-run Emirates News Agency (WAM) reported Saturday, citing the government directive.

The decision, announced of Saturday, refers only to “individuals,” making it unclear whether journalists and media professionals are included. According to the officials, it aims to prevent the spread of misinformation and rumors about the coronavirus outbreak that has killed about 37 people in the Gulf Arab state and infected more than 6,300.

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