Al Saja’a industrial area in Sharjah. Picture for illustrative purpose only. Image Credit: Gulf News

Sharjah: His Highness Dr Shaikh Sultan bin Mohamed Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, on Friday directed the Department of Islamic Affairs in Sharjah not to allow the burial of any coronavirus victims in Al Saja'a area of Sharjah.

Confirming that there have been no such burials that have taken place in the area, Sharjah authorities rubbished rumours doing the rounds on social media videos that some victims had been laid to rest in the area.

The Media Office of the Sharjah Government called on the public to rely on news from official sources, and not to circulate rumours.

The authorities are clamping down on rumour-mongers and warning residents that spreading false news is a serious offence that can be severely penalised.

People who circulate rumours may be jailed for up to a year and held accountable according to the articles of the Federal Criminal Law and the Federal Law to Combat Cybercrime.

Last week, the UAE Ministry of Health and Prevention (MoHAP) issued a cautionary notice to residents not to circulate any information unless published by verified sources. It also urged the public to follow all preventive measures issued by official health authorities in the country with regard to checking the spread of coronavirus, and stressed that dissemination of fake news about COVID-19 is “causing more harm than the virus itself”.

Beware of rumours on coronavirus

Article 197 of the UAE Penal Law stipulates that any person who uses any means to share or publish rumours shall be sentenced to temporary imprisonment.

Article 198 of the Federal Law further states that any person who intentionally disseminates false or malicious news, statements, rumours or disruptive propaganda, intending to prejudice public security, spread fear among people or inflict damage to public interest, shall be punished.