DUBAI: The United Arab Emirates has threatened to jail people who make fun of its anti-COVID measures after mocking photos and videos appeared online. Federal prosecutors said social media users could be punished under new laws which allow at least two years’ jail and AED 200,000 ($54,000) fines for sharing misleading information during a pandemic.

The UAE has introduced a number of measures to tackle a wave of Omicron variant cases that have pushed daily COVID numbers to the highest levels since last March. The warning followed “the recent circulation of photos and videos on social media... accompanied by comments and songs mocking the precautionary measures and calling on others to flout them”, the Federal Emergency Crisis and Disasters Prosecution said in a statement.

“We, therefore, call upon members of the community to refrain from this behavior, which is punishable by the law,” said the statement, which was released on Monday. Testing requirements have increased in recent weeks with many employers demanding regular negative PCR results, putting pressure on test centers. Residents of the capital, Abu Dhabi, need a negative PCR result every fortnight and tests are also needed to enter government buildings. The UAE has also barred foreign travel for citizens who haven’t had a vaccination booster shot. The UAE is currently hosting Dubai Expo, the six-month world fair that has attracted more than nine million visits so far. The country reported 2,511 new cases yesterday. – AFP