Kuwait charges coronavirus rumour mongers, minister says

Anas Al Salah also confirmed those who flouted quarantine rules would be penalised.

Kuwaiti healthy ministry workers prepare to scan expatriates living in Kuwait who returned from Egypt, Syria and Lebanon, as they arrive to a specified place to be tested for coronavirus in Kuwait City on March 12, 2020. / AFP / YASSER AL-ZAYYAT
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Kuwait has initiated legal proceedings against people spreading fake news and rumours in relation to coronavirus, the country’s minister of interior said Wednesday.

The ministry had warned the population against sharing rumours last week, saying it would track the culprits and hold them accountable.

Eight new cases of coronavirus took the total in Kuwait to 75 on Thursday. Five people have recovered from the virus, Ministry of Health spokesperson Dr Abdullah Al Sanad confirmed.

“We will not tolerate those who spread rumours and they will be held accountable,” Minister of Interior Anas Al Saleh said Wednesday.

“Rumours undermine health security and cause panic among the public,” he added, but did not specify how many people had been charged and with what particular offence.

Speaking at a press conference in Seef Palace after a government meeting on the global health crisis, Mr Al Salah also confirmed those who flouted quarantine rules would be penalised.

Mr Al Salah did not expand on what the punishment for either offence will be.

On Thursday Kuwaiti Minister of Information Muhammad Al Jabri said the governement “would not tolerate” any news website that shares rumours or causes panic.

Residents and citizens should find information from reliable sources,he advised, though he did not make a recommendation on which sites to follow.

But he also praised some media for disseminating useful information and facts on the crisis.

The measures to combat disinformation came as Kuwait declared a public holiday from March 12 to March 26.