Tuesday, 07 April 2020 11:13

Mobile industry group slams rumours linking 5G and COVID-19 Featured

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Mobile industry group slams rumours linking 5G and COVID-19 Image by ADMC from Pixabay

The head of the Australian Mobile Telecommunications Association, a lobby group for the mobile industry, has described claims being spread that there is a connection between 5G and COVID-19 as "false" and "the worst kind of fake-news misinformation".

In a statement, AMTA chief executive Chris Althaus said some reports in the media had given prominence to conspiracy theories about 5G, suggesting that there was a link to the coronavirus pandemic.

"These false claims are the worst kind of fake-news misinformation and are both irresponsible and completely unacceptable during a genuine health crisis," he said.

“It is important that the community is provided with clear, factual science based information."

A petition was published on the change.org website under the name of one Delroy Chin who claims to be based in San Francisco, claiming that 5G is detrimental to health, adding, "Symptoms of 5G exposure include respiratory problems, flu like symptoms (temperature rises, fever, headaches) pneumonia. Very much like the effects of the coronavirus."

The petition has been taken down but it can be seen at the Internet Archive.

Unfounded allegations about 5G are nothing new; when the Australian Government called for submissions to an inquiry about 5G in the country, a vast majority of those who wrote in mentioned the alleged health effects of the technology, urging the government to stop the rollout until studies have been done to ascertain whether it is safe. A majority of the submissions were from women.

This led to the Department of Communications and the Arts putting in a submission to the same inquiry, pointing out that studies by qualified experts had found no such health issues as claimed in other submissions.

In the UK, these spurious claims have taken hold to such an extent that three 5G towers, in Merseyside, Belfast and Birmingham, were set alight last week.

Althaus said he was able to understand that the circumstances around the COVID-19 outbreak had caused great concern and anxiety in the Australian community.

"And we take extremely seriously our responsibility for providing clarity on issues concerning the Australian mobile telecommunications industry, as the health and well-being of all Australians continues to be of highest importance at this time, he added

“The Australian mobile phone networks, consisting of 3G, 4G and 5G, are critical during these challenging times – especially when we are asking people to stay at home. All generations of mobile technology, including 5G, have a major role to play in enabling Australians to stay as connected as possible as well as enabling industries to be more productive and efficient in order to respond to this health emergency."

Althaus said the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency had responded to this reporting and misinformation, with a statement saying there was no established evidence that low-level radio wave exposure from 5G and other wireless telecommunications could affect the immune system or cause any other long term or short-term health effects.

“Australia’s chief medical officer, Professor Brendan Murphy says ‘I’d like to reassure the community that 5G technology is safe. There is no evidence telecommunication technologies, such as 5G, cause adverse health impacts'," Althaus added.

“We are well positioned to be confident in the health and safety of 5G mobile networks, and we must all consider and follow the advice of the government and health experts to build community confidence.

“Other sources around the world have labelled the idea of a link to COVID-19 as complete rubbish and biologically impossible.”

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Sam Varghese

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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