Fake coronavirus news fuels attacks on 5G towers
Although there is no evidence linking 5G (fifth-generation technology) to the outbreak of the coronavirus (COVID-19), anti-5G groups continue to damage 5G infrastructure, with the Netherlands being the latest country to report arson or sabotage attacks on telecom towers.
As the COVID-19 pandemic sweeps through the globe, with cases escalating to over 1.9 million, fact-checking experts have pointed to a perfect storm of factors that helped fuel the sabotage attacks. These include celebrities and coordinated campaigns spreading dangerous myths, with some content going viral on social media platforms such as YouTube, Twitter, Facebook and TikTok.
Actor Woody Harrelson, Dancing On Ice judge Jason Gardiner, Made In Chelsea star Lucy Watson, reality TV star Calum Best, actor John Cusack and singer Keri Hilson are among those who have shared content suggesting a link between 5G and COVID-19.
This weekend, De Telegraaf newspaper reported that in the past week, there had been four incidents of vandalism in the Netherlands, with 5G opponents spraying anti-5G slogans at the scene of the telecom tower attacks.
This comes after similar attacks occurred in the UK, where a number of 5G towers were set on fire and engineers harassed, due to some people believing the fake news that there is a dangerous link between 5G and COVID-19.
In a statement on its Web site, the Dutch government’s security and counter-terrorism department said: “This is a concerning development. Disruption of broadcasting masts can have consequences for the coverage of the telecommunications network and reachability of emergency services.”
Anti-5G groups have for years been sharing baseless claims about a link between 5G and coronavirus, claiming that active 5G radio waves, which use higher radio frequencies than 4G or 3G, have the ability to cause illnesses such as cancer, migraines, mental instability,DNA damage and now COVID-19.
However, ICT experts and scientists have come out strongly to refute claims that 5G plays a role in the conception or spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Global communications industry body, the GSMA, said in a recent statement: “It is deplorable that critical communications infrastructure is being attacked based on outright mistruths. We urge everyone to trust health authorities and rest assured communications technology is safe. There is no link between 5G and COVID-19.”
Dr Charley Lewis, independent analyst and researcher,working in the field of ICT policy and regulation, says the speculation is based on a “complete fallacy”, as radio waves cannot create a human virus.
“Many of the radio technologies pointed to had already been around for some years before the dates of the epidemics concerned, or had either long been used in other locations without causing any outbreaks, or had not been rolled out where the epidemics originated or spread to,” notes Lewis.
Reasons why 5G cannot be linked to the outbreak of COVID-19, according to Lewis:
COVID-19 is a relatively well-understood medical phenomenon transmitted from animals to humans. Its genome has been sequenced, and much is already known about its symptoms, prognosis and spread, with more uncovered daily.
There is no known means by which radio waves can generate a human virus, or propagate its spread. There is no scientific or medical means by which this can be made possible – it’s like expecting pigs to fly.
The difference between 5G and previous generations of mobile services (4G, 3G) is that the latter use lower radio frequencies (in the 6GHz range), whereas 5G uses frequencies in the 30–300GHz range. However, none of the spectrum alleged to be causing COVID-19 – the mmWave spectrum, above 6GHz – is in use anywhere globally. It’s only spectrum in bands similar to that used by 4G that is currently in use, proving 5G spectrum use has caused COVID-19 is based on a complete fallacy.
Speculation linking COVID-19 and 5G is highly selective in its choice of epidemics, ignoring outbreaks of smallpox, the entire HIV/AIDs epidemic and the more recent outbreaks of Ebola.
The virus is rapidly spreading in some countrieswhere 5G isn’t even in use yet – including Iran, India and Japan.
Theories that 5G testing has killed off large numbers of birds and other animals is equally fanciful. The bird conservation body, the Audobon Society, and the fact-checking Web site Snopes have debunked these theories.
According to Arthur Goldstuck, head of World Wide Worx: “There is no medical research conducted that proves that the frequencies from 5G are powerful enough to damage the cells in a human body alone. Radio frequency spectrum falls under non-ionising radiation with low energy/band, which is low risk to human health.”
Health minister Dr Zweli Mkhize previously stated: “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.”