Some people believe that 5G mobile telecom towers are the reasons behind the spread of the novel coronavirus in the UK.
They vandalised mobile phone towers and abused telecoms staff in Birmingham in central England and Merseyside in northern England, damaging connectivity to millions of mobile phone customers.
The first mobile tower in the Sparkhill area in Birmingham went up in flames on Thursday and the second tower was in the M57 area near Liverpool on Friday, Reuters reported.
Culture Secretary James Dowden issued a warning to all social media sites and messaging platforms to curb conspiracy theories, fake scientific reports and scams relating to the Covid-19 outbreak.
The theory originated last month after a video filmed at a US health conference claimed Africa was not as affected by the disease because it is not a 5G region.
An attack at a mobile tower in Birmingham owned by BT, Britain’s biggest telecom operator, caused significant damage. The telecom tower provided 2G, 3G and 4G services to thousands of people, but did not have 5G capability, BT said.
A conspiracy theory that links 5G mobile towers to the spread of the novel coronavirus is dangerous fake news and completely false, Britain said on Saturday.
British Cabinet Officer Minister Michael Gove said: “That is nonsense, dangerous nonsense as well.”
NHS England’s national medical director, Stephen Powis, said the 5G conspiracy idea was fake news with no scientific backing that risked damaging the emergency response to the outbreak.
“The 5G story is complete and utter rubbish. It’s nonsense. It’s the worst kind of fake news,” Stephen Powis said. “The reality is that the mobile phone networks are absolutely critical to all of us.”
“Those are also the phone networks that are used by our emergency services and our health workers and I’m absolutely outraged, absolutely disgusted that people would be taking action against the very infrastructure that we need to respond to this health emergency,” Stephen Powis said.
A lobby group for the United Kingdom’s mobile operators – including EE, O2, Vodafone and Three – said it was aware of the false rumours linking 5G to the outbreak, and that telecoms staff had been threatened.
Vodafone, the world’s second largest mobile operator, said the attacks were now a matter of national security.
Vodafone UK CEO Nick Jeffery described his engineers as heroes and urged people not to spread the baseless stories online.