AS NOVEL coronavirus (COVID-19) sweeps the globe do fake news and rumours about what caused it and how it spreads. One of the rumours that has racked more venomous steam is the one alleging that the new 5G communication networks caused the disease.
In split-second speed, the conspiracy theory went viral on social media and other online outlets. But the controversy that quickly followed is as presumptuous as it is needless.
THERE has been no scientific evidence to link radio waves with coronavirus, let alone the strand that causes COVID-19.
PERHAPS, this explains why experts describe those linking radio waves to COVID-19 as a gang in a conspiracy which may ultimately turn out a hoax.
THE theory started last month with a Twitter post by an American pop singer, Keri Hilson, in which she tweeted to her 4.2 million followers attempting to link coronavirus to 5G.
A Facebook user named Ben Mackie joined the fray to link 5G to coronavirus, saying in part that it was not actually a virus. According to him, all the ‘dins’ about the pandemic is a ruse.
“THEY are trying to get you scared of a fake … virus when it is the 5G towers being built around the world. A conspiracy to depopulate the world by those who invented the technology,” he said in a post. Many shared the false claims on YouTube and Facebook, including an anti-5G Facebook group.
OTHER variants of the comments that come across like conjecture suggest the virus was instead being invented as cover for deaths caused by 5G rollout, while groups that previously claimed the mobile signal caused cancer or brain damage now suggest it is also responsible for a respiratory disease.
BUT the dust kicked up by Hilson was yet to settle when an actor named Woody Harrelson came with his own conspiracy theory connecting 5G to the vicious virus, by sharing an article that insinuated correlation between 5G and COVID-19.
SOCIAL media posts from celebrity singer, Anne Marie, also fueled the fire in spreading the theory in similar way as a judge on Britain’s Got Talent reality show, Jeff Holden, who shared a link to Change.org urged his followers to believe the rumour that symptoms of coronavirus arise from residing near a 5G mast.
ALTHOUGH those claims were debunked by FullFact, a United Kingdom (UK) based fact checker with other experts from Federal Communications Commission chiming in, it has not stopped a rain of invectives on broadband engineers and threats.
FULLY aware of social media grit on information back home, Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) swiftly set out to deflate the controversy.
A RELEASE issued last week by NCC Director of Public Affairs, Dr. Henry Nkemadu, not only proffered useful clarifications, it also highlighted some modalities under which the technology has been subjected to trial in Nigeria.
NO MATTER anyone’s bias, it is pertinent to note that since companies first started talking about 5G, there have been concerns expressed by some people about the technology’s impact on health. One version of 5G, called millimetre wave, runs on very high-frequency radio waves.
Those signals cannot travel long distances. This is why towers are placed close together and installed in more locations.
WHILE this may have ignited worries that radioactive waves could produce harmful radiation that may trigger brain cancer, infertility, headaches and other illnesses, there is no definitive way to know if it will cause long-term health problems since 5G is still new.
It should be noted that telecoms regulators worldwide say there is nothing to worry, basing their confidence on findings of no link between radio frequency signals from cellphones or cell towers and any diseases let alone COVID-19.
WHATEVER may yet come as its ‘side effects,’ 5G is new super-fast wireless technology rolling out live networks globally, from United States to China, South Korea, Germany and UK as a technology primed to change the way people live to powering everything from autonomous cars to advanced augmented reality experiences.
The belief is that any country that leads in 5G will lead the world in the coming decades and possibly longer.
THEREFORE, in urging people to disregard the rumour as another piece of misinformation, until credible scientific evidence comes to the contrary, the National Light reminds cell phone users that almost every new generation of communication technological advancement attracted fresh theories about health risks.
Similar 5G theories were already widespread before COVID-19 pandemic but have been given new lease of life by the global crisis.
INTERNATIONAL radiation experts have repeatedly made it clear that the new high-speed telecommunication system does not pose any risk to humans. They strengthen the point with the fact that coronavirus has spread widely in many countries like Iran that are without any 5G coverage.
WE THEREFORE call on users and influencers in social media platforms to step up their respective censorship regimens and sieve what is fed into their engines and how they ultimately get to their clients.
While some may see this as ‘gagging,’ we recommend it as the only plausible way of living up to their roles as gate keepers.
SIMILARLY, we call on scientists to go into investigation as the only way through which the correct correlation between 5G and COVID-19, if any, can be unearthed.
FLUNKING this test will continue to give room for preposterous links, just as anymore complacency may deal an eternal blow.