Baseless claims linking 5G to coronavirus

By Guo Yiming
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail, April 6, 2020
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A bird nesting on a 5G base station in Switzerland. [Photo/]

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to spread across the world, some people have been blaming the 5G network as a culprit.

In the United Kingdom, multiple cellphone masts have been set on fire and telecom engineers have faced verbal and physical threats during the country's lockdown. The events took place due to false claims circulating widely online: either COVID-19 serves as a cover-up for the health hazards of 5G, or the technology itself suppresses the immune system.

At the government's daily coronavirus briefing, the Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove called the false claims linking 5G with COVID-19 "just nonsense, dangerous nonsense as well."

EE, O2, Three and Vodafone, the UK's four major telecom operators, issued a joint statement on Twitter on Sunday urging people to stop sharing misinformation and prevent vandalism to infrastructure which is critical in keeping communities across the country connected.

"There is no scientific evidence of any link between 5G and coronavirus," the statement said. "Not only are these claims baseless, they are harmful for the people and businesses that rely on the continuity of our services... and also led to the abuse of our engineers, and in some cases, prevented network maintenance taking place."

5G is the next generation of wireless mobile network that has been rapidly rolled out in 2019. It enables faster connection speeds, lower latency and massive connection, which are essential to the general population who are now being asked to work and study from home, as well as for the health care response to the virus.

"I'm absolutely outraged and disgusted that people would be taking action against the infrastructure we need to tackle this emergency," said Stephen Powis, national medical director of National Health Service (NHS) England.

Dimitris Mavrakis, a telecom analyst at ABI Research, said he cannot understand why people are blaming and attacking 5G sites for the spread of COVID-19, and wonders if they are just "desperate to find an immediate culprit to blame" for the restrictions on their everyday life.

"I think it's more that the coronavirus gives the anti-5Gers a focal point and something to take their campaign to," tweeted Duncan McKean, a public relations specialist at CC Group.

Zahid Ghadialy, a U.K.-based industry analyst jokingly wrote, "Sometimes I think it's good that we have 5G so everyone can blame 5G. What happens when a country doesn't have 5G?"

So far, over 200 countries around the world have reported cases of COVID-19, while only a handful have deployed 5G infrastructure.

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