Lt. Khalid Mohammad Banasser opens the ‘Dubai Police-Philippine Consulate General-Dubai Community Forum on Saturday. Kamal Kassim/Gulf Today
Mariecar Jara-Puyod, Senior Reporter
Tough punishment awaits individuals found guilty of spreading misinformation and disinformation that impinge on the reputation and national security of the UAE such as those regarding the current global concern on Coronavirus (COVID-19).
“Do not spread disinformation and misinformation about (COVID-19). Like you are in a metro station and someone collapses and you start posting on (the social media) and spreading (through whatever means) about this person with (COVID-19 and the extent of COVID2019 in the UAE). Do not spread any (false and unverified information) that will damage the reputation of the UAE especially now that Expo2020 Dubai is here; anything that is going to affect the national security of the country,” Dubai Police-Smart Police Station (SPS) official Lt. Khalid Mohammad Banasser said on Saturday morning.
“(The guilty will be meted with) high punishment. (Their) case will be referred to Abu Dhabi.”
Pursued by reporters for some questions, Banasser said the “high punishment” means “10 years (jail term) and of course deportation (for expatriates).”
On Gulf Today’s enquiry on national security threats, particularly the US-Iran conflict, Banasser said: “We do not want to go to that extent (of discussions). But, anything that will (taint) and damage the reputation of the country; anything that will affect (the country’s) national security, that is very dangerous. Do not spread any misinformation and disinformation).”
Banasser issued the statements at the “Dubai Police-Philippine Consulate General in Dubai and the Northern Emirates (PCGDNE) Community Forum on Cybercrimes and Emergency Preparedness” held at the Dubai Police Officers Club.
From the sidelines too, Banasser repeated what he had agreed with, at the open forum that information on COVID-19 be sourced out from the Ministry of Health and Prevention.
He continued: “Yes. With regards national security and how to deal (with emergency preparedness, you will be guided by your respective embassies and consulates general) who get all the correct information from UAE authorities.”
The collaborative community forum was the sixth with the consular mission since Aug.28, 2017. Mini sessions were conducted as well at the PCGDNE premises in Al Qusais.
The last big forum was on Aug.3, 2019 wherein the SPS, cybercrime, child abuse and illicit relationships were discussed.
Meanwhile, the 153-year-old International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease (The Union), the Paris-headquartered organisation that campaigns and advocates lung health as it brings to fore health problems in poor/developing/middle-income economies, had emailed its statement on COVID2019.
The statement quoted The Union-Lung Health director Dr. Kevin Mortimer.
“The outbreak of the new airborne respiratory infection is alarming, especially given the unknown factors. These moments in time put our science, our research and our public health systems to the test. Our ability to contain the disease and swiftly develop treatments depends on public health agencies working together to coordinate across countries, languages and sectors.”
The Respiratory Medicine specialist also stated: “The importance of collaboration in research and development is critical. We need knowledge, resource sharing and pooling of information to maximise our ability to deliver effective care for everyone in need and develop new innovations, including vaccines.”
Mortimer added: “It is extremely important that we do not stop here or allow ourselves to only value these systems during an outbreak. We need to maintain these principles of collaboration more broadly so that we can tackle other real present threats to human health and to be one step ahead of future emergencies.”
On the World Health Organisation efforts with some partner individuals on the research and development on COVID-19 treatments, Mortimer was hopeful that these would be “affordable and accessible to all those who need it.”
COVID-19 has become a global threat since first discovered and confirmed in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China in Dec.2019.
The committee has arranged for this free service to be available for the cardholders and their first-degree relatives from the reputable pharmacies across the UAE, including Al Hekma Pharmacies, Bin Sina Pharmacies, Makkah Pharmacies, Health First Pharmacies, and Medicina Pharmacies.
The Ministry of Health and Prevention, MoHAP, said it carried out over 136,430 additional COVID-19 tests in the country over the last 24 hours, using the latest testing methods.
The initiative, which was implemented in cooperation with Sharjah’s Family Health Promotion Centre, and Huawei, comes as part of the ministry’s efforts being made to contain the spread of coronavirus, using the latest Artificial Intelligence (AI) technologies and fifth generation technology (5G).
The announcement follows the directives issued by President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, and His Highness Sheikh Mohamed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces.
President His Highness Sheikh Mohamed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan has directed that funeral prayers in absentia be performed for the victims of the earthquakes in Türkiye and Syria, following Juma's prayers (Friday prayers) in all mosques across the country.
Rescue workers continued to pull living people from the damaged homes but hope was starting to fade amid freezing temperatures more than three full days since the quake hit.
The earthquake will start in Afghanistan and pass through Pakistan and India before ending in the Indian Ocean, he said, adding these areas are the most prone to large earthquakes.