UAE to punish people for spreading unauthorised coronavirus information
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) announced on Saturday that the authorities will fine individuals up to 20,000 dirhams ($5,500) if they share medical information about COVID-19 that contradicts official statistics.
"It is forbidden for any individual to publish, re-publish or circulate medical information or guidance which is false, misleading or which hasn't been announced officially ... using print, audiovisual or social media, or online websites or any other way of publication or circulation," state-run news agency WAM reported, citing the government directive.
The text of the government decision refers only to "individuals", without specifying whether journalists and media professionals are included.
However, human rights activists have accused the authorities of using the pandemic as a pretext to further curtail vital reporting and to intensify the crackdown on media freedom.
As of Saturday, 18 April 2020, 37 people died of the virus in the UAE and more than 6,300 were infected.