Coronavirus: Dh20,000 fine for anyone found sharing fake news

The decision was taken by the UAE Cabinet on Saturday

Foreign workers who have tested positive to the novel coronavirus at a testing centre in the Naif area of the Gulf Emirate of Dubai, wait in a bus before being transported to  a specialised centre for isolation and treatment, on April 15, 2020.  / AFP / KARIM SAHIB
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Anyone found sharing fake coronavirus news could be fined up to Dh20,000, authorities have announced.

The decision to prohibit the circulation of "unapproved information" was made by the UAE Cabinet on Saturday.

Dr Farida Al Hosani, a spokeswoman for the UAE's health sector, gave details of the announcement during an online press conference.

She also confirmed the country's volunteer workforce to help fight the pandemic had now reached 8,000 people.

"There will be a fine against anyone who shares and circulates fake and misleading news," she said.

"This fine can be up to Dh20,000 for anyone who shares and circulates false guidelines, fake news or any misleading information."

Dr Al Hosani stressed that the Ministry of Health and Prevention, as well as other related departments, were the "only competent authorities" able to provide accurate information about the outbreak.

"Your co-operation is very important," she said. "But it is not restricted to abiding by the social distancing or staying at home.

"Your role is also striving to share only reliable information in these very exceptional circumstances."

Emiratis and residents were also encouraged to join the country's volunteer force.

"I would like to remind you that you are all invited to join this campaign," said a spokeswoman for the taskforce. "We invite you to enrol and register in this."

More than 6,300 cases of coronavirus have now been confirmed in the UAE, with 1,188 recoveries and 37 deaths.

On Friday, the World Health Organisation urged Middle East countries to "seize the opportunity" to combat the pandemic while numbers of cases in the region were still relatively low.

On Friday, Dubai also extended its 24-hour mandatory stay at home order for another week.

The system, which requires residents to apply for a police permit to leave home for essential shopping or medical appointments, will remain in effect.