As the coronavirus continues to spread worldwide, so too are rumours and conspiracy theories about the disease, this time in relation to the 5G technology. There have been viral posts on social media platforms, including Facebook, Twitter and most recently, Whatsapp, claiming that the 5G technology is the cause of the infection.
In one of the most widespread claims, popular American singer Keri Hilson asserted that coronavirus is caused by fifth-generation wireless technology, known as 5G. In a series of now-deleted tweets on March 16, 2020 (archived here), Hilson claimed COVID-19 was not as widespread in Africa because of the absence of 5G.
“People have been trying to warn us about 5G for YEARS. Petitions, organizations, studies…what we’re going through is the effects of radiation. The network launched in CHINA. Nov 1, 2019. People dropped dead,” she wrote.
“Turn off 5G by disabling LTE!!! Why do you think the virus is not happening in Africa like that? Not a 5G region. There may be a few bases there, but not as prevalent as other countries. It has nothing to do with melanin.”
Hilson shared a viral YouTube video in which controversial American doctor Thomas Cowan, who remains on probation imposed by the Medical Board of California, argued that the novel coronavirus was created by 5G networks.
In his video, Cowan claimed that Wuhan, the city where the novel coronavirus outbreak began, was the first city wholly covered by 5G in the world. Cowan and others who believe his theory claim that China launched 5G in October 2019 — two months before the outbreak started.
Even South African Gospel singer Dumi Mkokstad also warned against 5G network.
FIRST, WHAT IS 5G?
5G, or fifth-generation, is the latest of the wireless mobile phone technologies, first widely deployed in 2019. Just as other mobile technologies such as 4G, 3G and 2G, its data is transmitted over radio waves—a type of electromagnetic radiation. They are superfast and represent an evolution in telecommunication standards.
ARE THESE CLAIMS TRUE?
While there have been health concerns regarding the use of 5G networks — and mobile networks in general — owing to radiation, this has nothing to do with the outbreak of viruses, experts have confirmed.
While it is true that the 5G technologies were rolled out in China around the same time the coronavirus was discovered, there is no scientific evidence they pose any health risk much less causes the virus.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) says “a large number of studies have been performed over the last two decades to assess whether mobile phones pose a potential health risk (and) to date, no adverse health effects have been established as being caused by mobile phone use.”
It also says of the 5G technology: “Till date, and after much research performed, no adverse health effect has been causally linked with exposure to wireless technologies. Health-related conclusions are drawn from studies performed across the entire radio spectrum but, so far, only a few studies have been carried out at the frequencies to be used by 5G.”
The global body explains further that the main mechanism of interaction between radiofrequency fields and the human body is tissue heating, and that “radiofrequency exposure levels from current technologies result in negligible temperature rise in the human body.”
“As the frequency increases, there is less penetration into the body tissues and absorption of the energy becomes more confined to the surface of the body (skin and eye). Provided that the overall exposure remains below international guidelines, no consequences for public health are anticipated,” it adds.
We are aware of inaccurate information being shared online about 5G. There is absolutely no credible evidence of a link between 5G and coronavirus
For COVID-19 advice:
— DCMS (@DCMS) April 3, 2020
This week Health Minister Zweli Mkhize also dismissed as fake news, the claims that the 5G network roll-out is linked to Covid-19 infections.
Any information that is forwarded to you without context or source should either be dismissed or thoroughly interrogated before you do anything with it.
Please do not forward warnings, messages, or statements from people claiming to have some kind of inside information without being able to verify who the source is. This is regardless of whether the message is a text, video, or voice note.