Dr Zweli Mkhize debunks 5G-coronavirus link theories

Sibahle Malinga
By Sibahle Malinga, ITWeb senior news journalist.
Johannesburg, 01 Apr 2020
Minister of health Dr Zweli Mkhize.
Minister of health Dr Zweli Mkhize.

Health minister Dr Zweli Mkhize has refuted claims that fifth-generation (5G) technology played a role in the conception or spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, labelling the theory as “fake news”.

Addressing members of the media on measures to be taken by government to curb the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic in SA yesterday evening, Mkhize noted the virus has claimed the lives of five people, with the infection rate rising to 1 353.

Responding to questions about the ongoing raging debate on the connection between 5G technology and the coronavirus, Mkhize explained: “We are dealing with a lot of fake news here. The reality is that 5G is a technology, and coronavirus is an organic infection that is based on a living viral agent.

“The coronavirus is not something that you can link to any technology. The form of spread is well described scientifically in terms of the viral agents and its behaviour is well-known.We have tracked this virus and we know it comes from animals.”

Mkhize noted the coronavirus was transmitted through zoonosis transmission – when a disease of animals is transmitted to humans.

5G is the fifth generation of wireless communications technologies, supporting cellular data networks. Large-scale adoption began in 2019, and today most telecommunication service providers in the developed world are upgrading their infrastructure to offer 5G functionality.

Myth with no supported facts

The current global COVID-19 infection rate is at over 860 000,with deaths increasing to over 42 000 and recoveries at almost more than179 000, at the time of publication.

As the pandemic sweeps through the globe, many stories, based on rumours, speculation and conspiracy theories, have gone viral on social media platforms YouTube, Twitter and Facebook, about how the virus originally manifested and what is propelling its increasing spread.

Anti-5G groups have been sharing false claims about 5G, with more than 23 700 people having signed a petition on to “Stop 5G rollout in Cape Town, SA, and while we're at it, the world”.

Activists are concerned about the possibility of 5G radio waves, which emanate from land and in space, producing harmful radiation which they claim causes brain cancer and headaches, with the latest concern being COVID-19.

In a video recorded at the Health and Human Rights Summit in Tucson, Arizona, on 12 March, doctor and anthroposophist Thomas Cowan was quoted as saying every time a fundamentally new electrical technology is introduced, we see a pandemic.

"A biological shock wave occurs, because our organism does not know what to do with the stressful new situation. Many people die and the rest survive, but with an excited biology," he noted.

Arthur Goldstuck, head of World Wide Worx, says it takes only a little scrutiny to find that the connection between COVID-19 and 5G is a “myth, and not supported by facts”.

“The link between 5G and COVID-19 is based entirely on conspiracy theories. It is regrettable that conspiracy theorists are given fuel for this bizarre belief by the fact that little testing has been done on the health impact of 5G.

“It may well turn out to have an effect on human health, but it takes a massive leap of logic to link such effects to the spread of a virus. Viruses spread through infection, not through radio waves,” notes Goldstuck.

According to Goldstuck, South Korea was the first country in the world to roll-out 5G on a large scale, followed by the US. Iran, one of the countries hardest hit by COVID-19, has not yet rolled out 5G – giving the instant lie to claims its 5G deployment was related to the virus outbreak in that country.

“On a global scale, no mainstream 5G phones were available in the mass market until the launch of the Samsung Galaxy S20 on 6 March, well into the pandemic. Most of what people see as 5G connections on their phones is in reality just a marketing gimmick by operators, who are still using 4G spectrum to connect 5G phones. That means that even if one could make a scientific connection, one is connecting the spread of a virus with the non-spread of a communications technology,” he points out.

In addition, a new White Paper produced by advisory firm Deloitte in collaboration with technology giant Huawei shows that contrary to popular belief, 5G can play an important role in combating the spread of COVID-19.

The report details findings on the critical role of 5G technology in helping the process for infected individuals and in controlling the outbreak.