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In response to the Covid-19 pandemic, the public authorities in the UAE have taken proactive and adequate measures to ensure the safety and wellbeing of its citizens, residents and visitors. The UAE currently leads the world nations in the number of Covid-19 vaccines administered, with 93% of its population being vaccinated and 82 % being fully vaccinated. This is a staggering achievement and combined with the Covid-19 protection measures, the country has successfully brought life close to normal, with residents being able to enjoy a more accessible and healthier environment compared to many other nations.
Amongst the safety measures implemented by the UAE, the government has introduced the Al Hosn application, which functions as the official application of the government for both contact tracing, as well as health status updates related to Covid-19. The application serves as the e-platform facilitating the following measures:
- COVID-19 test results and a recording of all previous Covid-19 results with their respective dates
- Notification if one has been in contact or is confirmed with a case of Covid-19
- All information concerning Covid-19 vaccination showing the type of vaccine taken and the certification authenticating the dosage and the number of vaccines taken.
Obtaining negative PCR tests has been one of the measures implemented by the UAE government, and the Al Hosn app is relied on for sharing test reports as well as vaccination certificates. The government has been strict in implementing these measures in order to ensure the safety of all people, and thus it can be considered a grievous offence if one forges a PCR test report. On one part, such an act will be violating the criminal law as it would constitute the criminal offence of ‘forgery’, and on the other hand, such an act also compromises public safety and directly violates the safety measures imposed by the government.
Under the Federal Decree-Law No. 34/2021 ‘Concerning the Fight Against Rumors and Cybercrime’, ‘ Anyone who forges an electronic document of the federal or local government, or the public federal or local authorities or institutions shall be sentenced to provisional imprisonment and to pay fine of not less than one hundred fifty thousand Dirhams (AED 150,000) and not more than seven hundred fifty thousand Dirhams(AED 750,000).If the forgery is committed in documents of a body other than the bodies described in above clause, then the penalty shall be detention and/or payment of fine of not less than one hundred thousand Dirhams (AED 100,000) and not more than three hundred thousand Dirhams (AED 300,000). Everyone uses the forged electronic document, while informed of its forgery, shall be sentenced to the same penalty established for the crime of forgery’.
Apart from the hefty fines mentioned above, an imprisonment sentence may also be awarded for flouting health rules and posing a threat to the safety of the people. Many such arrests have taken place in the UAE, and the arrested personnel have been subject to a criminal trial.
Some of the other types of fines that are being imposed as part of the COVID-19 safety protocols include the following:
- Refusing mandatory hospitalization while suffering from Covid-19 or neglecting to take the prescribed medicine
- Failing to adhere to home quarantine
- For shopping malls for not complying with guidelines related to opening and closing of facilities
- For commercial facilities for not complying with guidelines related to opening and closing of facilities
- For organizers conducting private classes in person, in public or private, whether paid for or free
- Failing to report workers who test positive to health authorities
- for hacking the systems of these applications or smart devices, damaging, altering or illegally obtaining information from them. The offender will also bear the cost of damages.
- Promoting or publishing misinformation about pandemic related matters, or encouraging people not to comply with measures
- Violating regulations determine number of people who can reside in one dwelling.
- Conducting private classes in person, in public or private, whether paid for or free
- Neglecting or ignoring duties assigned to you related to stopping the spread of Covid-19
- Not complying when stopped by officials on Covid-19 related issues
- Changing or creating information in messages and results about Covid-19 tests
- Breaking rules on social distancing at gatherings
- Breaking rules on smaller gatherings
- Violating procedures under the e-tracking system
The health system in the UAE provides both governments funded as well as private health facilities that provide a comprehensive health care solution. The covid-19 precautionary measures are strictly enforced within the UAE, with violations inviting hefty penalties. The UAE has also recently relaxed the rules concerning the wearing of face masks in certain public places. The new changes were brought in after the number of daily covid-19 cases had decreased by 60 per cent in comparison with the last year at this given time, which is a testament to the nation’s efficiency in handling the crisis of COVID-19. The country continues to pioneer in health care and is a leading example for the systematic handling of the covid-19 crisis and its continued economic growth and stability.