People ought to be ethically responsible and follow procedures announced by the authorities.
Anyone deliberately spreading coronavirus or failing to report a suspected or positive Covid-19 case will face hefty fines and jail, the authorities have warned as they step up measures to contain the pandemic.
For intentionally spreading the infection, the penalty is up to five years in prison and/or a fine not less than Dh50,000 and not more than Dh100,000. For not reporting a case, the violator will face three years in jail and/or a fine not exceeding Dh10,000, the legal experts have pointed out.
A top official from Sharjah Medical Zone said that the discovery of one confirmed case has prompted the health authorities to search and investigate the surroundings where it happened to identify the source of the infection. “Residents have to cooperate with health and security authorities and report if any other case crops up to prevent the spread of the virus among the community.”
Major General Saif Al Zeri Al Shamsi, commander-in-chief of Sharjah Police, said that the police are in full coordination with the authorities concerned to combat the Covid-19 while enforcing the law.
He stressed that those who do not follow the law on communicable diseases will face action, which will include penalties as well as imprisonment.
What the law says
Ghassan El Daye, partner and head of litigation Middle East for UK-based law firm Charles Russell Speechlys, said that the UAE’s law on contagious diseases has introduced strict regulations that would see people who intentionally infect others with Covid-19 prosecuted.
“Violators of Federal Law number 14 for 2014 on communicable diseases are subject to penalties that include fines and jail terms, depending on the type of violations. Article 34 of the law prohibits those who have a communicable disease from carrying out any intentional behavior that results in spreading the infection,” he said.
The penalty for this violation is up to five years in prison and/or a fine not less than Dh50,000 and not more than Dh100,000. If the offence has been repeated, judges are allowed to double the violator’s prison term.
El Daye explained that the law’s Article 31 prohibits those who know they have been infected from leaving the health facility or travelling out or into the country without a prior approval from the authorities concerned. “But it’s a must according to law for those arriving into the country who know they have been infected, to notify authorities on arrival.”
According to Articles 32 and 33 of the same law, residents who find out they have caught an infectious disease – from among a number of diseases listed in a table as part of the law – and also the people with whom they had interacted, are obliged by law to inform authorities. This is to seek treatment which is provided to all who are not covered by health insurance, and from that point on, they ought to follow measures, and instructions provided. Violators of Articles 31, 32, and 33, can face up to three years in jail and a fine between Dh10,000 and Dh50,000.
The law also makes it obligatory for residents to report any suspected cases or deaths resulting from a communicable disease in its Article 36 and those who refrain from doing so, will face up to three years in jail and/or a fine not exceeding Dh10,000.
People ought to be ethically responsible and follow procedures announced by the authorities, avoid rumours, report suspicious cases, seek medical help and avoid contact with others if they are themselves infected in order to avoid legal accountability.
Awatif Mohammed Khouri from Al Rowaad Advocates said that if any violation leads to infecting others and causing their deaths, violators would be prosecuted according to the communicable disease law as well as the country’s penal code.
She noted that those whose violations cause deaths may be charged with intentionally infecting others and with causing wrongful deaths.
“The penalty according to Article 342 of the UAE’s penal code is up to three years in prison for causing the wrongful death, but if more than three people have died as a result of the violator’s offence, the prison term will increase to five years,” she noted.
UAE’s Attorney-General Dr Hamad Saif Al Shamsi had earlier warned the public against violating precautionary measures and procedures taken by the country to prevent the spread of Covid-19 and announced a list of fines against those who violate the measures.
He said breaking home quarantine and coming in contact with others is considered a violation of the laws and exposes the health and safety of society members to risk.
He noted that the public prosecution will strictly apply the law for anyone who violates the laws and instructions.
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