Thailand will impose sentences of up to two years in prison for the dissemination of false news or that create fear about Covid-19 starting Friday, amid strong criticism of the government’s management of the pandemic.

"To maintain the stability of the country ... no one will publish news, distribute or disseminate information that contains messages that scare the public or cause misunderstandings," the order published in the Royal Gazette read.

The National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission is authorized to ask internet providers to suspend their services immediately if it is considered platforms are spreading false content about Covid-19, the order read.

The measure comes amid strong criticism of the Thai government for its handling of the new Covid-19 outbreak and the delay in its vaccination rollout, while the country registers record numbers of infections with the hospital system collapsing.