Saudi Arabia: One year jail for spreading rumours on COVID-19

Saudi health minister advised against listening to health-related rumours, and called on everyone to obtain information from reliable health authorities who are keen on the safety of the public.

Riyadh: The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) has repeated its previous warning imposing severe penalties on those who spread rumours related to the COVID-19, local media reported on Sunday.

The government said that anyone who spreads rumours about the COVID-19 shall be punished with a fine of no less than 100,000 Saudi riyals and not more than one million riyals, or imprisonment for a period of not less than one year and not more than five years, or both.

On Sunday, health minister Dr Tawfiq Al-Rabiah warned against the danger of rumours to human health. The minister said he had always listened to warnings about rumors and their danger, noting that when he became minister of health, he knew that many of the rumours were “fatal”.

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He advised against listening to health-related rumours, and called on everyone to obtain information from reliable health authorities who are keen on the safety of the public.

Dr Muhammad Al-Abdel-Ali, the spokesperson for the ministry of health, also warned not to spread rumours and false information about the COVID-19 or vaccines against it.

“No deaths were recorded in Saudi Arabia related to taking COVID-19 vaccines,” said Dr Muhammad Al-Abdel-Ali, while warning people against falling victim to rumours or spreading rumours.

He stressed that COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective while reiterating that they are safe for pregnant women.

“It is safe at all stages of pregnancy, and infection with the virus is dangerous for a pregnant woman and may expose her to risks,” Dr Al-Abed Ali said.

In his speech at the daily press conference to brief the developments of the COVID-19 pandemic on Sunday, he stressed the need to adhere to the ministry’s instructions in this regard.

He pointed out that the ministry of health has not yet approved the Sinopharm and Sinovac vaccine in Saudi Arabia. The only approved vaccines are Pfizer BioNTech, Oxford—AstraZeneca, Moderna and Johnson.

Saudi Arabia began mass vaccination against COVID-19 on December 17. The authorities have offered free vaccinations to citizens and foreign residents.

Over 30 million doses have since been administered at 587 vaccination centers across the kingdom, according to the latest official figures.

COVID-19 cases in Saudi Arabia

The cumulative number of COVID-19 cases in Saudi Arabia reached 534, 312 whereas, the death toll climbed to 8,345. The counts of recoveries and active cases currently stand at 515, 539, and 10, 428 respectively.

The number of critical cases of COVID-19 in the kingdom has also dropped to 1,393.

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