The UAE's National Emergency Crisis and Disaster Management Authority (NCEMA) on Tuesday announced that a local TV channel reporter is facing prosecution over a false story about five members of a family dying from Covid-19.
A correspondent working for Abu Dhabi Sports Channel is one of two people detained pending investigation by the Public Prosecution, it was revealed in a series of tweets on NCEMA's official Twitter page, sister publication AB.com reported.
"The incident that was broadcast on Abu Dhabi Sports Channel is false and fabricated, the family does not exist and the story is completely fictitious," a tweet said.
The second individual arrested, who was not identified, is said to have made up the story in the first place.
The Public Prosecution added in another tweet: "We call on every official in the media field to exercise responsibility when dealing with the topic of #Covid19, those in general and social media pioneers in particular, in order to preserve the efforts made by our leaders and their relevant authorities."
NCEMA noted that since the Covid-19 outbreak, social media platforms have been flooded with rumours and inaccurate information, which has added another layer in the fight against the pandemic, adding that national media has played an important role in correcting the information.
"We count on our partners in the national media to verify all information in order to not negatively affect the security of society, and to ensure full focus on the efforts to confront the #Covid19 crisis," another tweet read.
The Public Prosecution said it "will not be lenient with anyone who doesn't follow their duty and is irresponsible, we will apply the law firmly and decisively", adding: "This incident has affected members of the Emirati community, citizens and residents, leaving them in a state of confusion and fear around the outbreak of the disease, all based on inaccurate information."
It said its investigation into the incident is ongoing "to clarify the situation and elements of what was published and the real motives behind the crime".