The rumor started like drips, lisping through uncouth lips pushing a narrative to fulfill their quest for a scapegoat. Somehow, someone, something should get the blame for the virus that has swept through the world with a devastating impact.
In late December 2019, Chinese epidemiologists tried to figure out the origin of coronavirus, their attempt to explain where the disease sprang from got them pointing at many things, mainly animals. “It may have come from snakes,” “it may have come from bats” in the end, no animal was found guilty of the pandemic. But the world didn’t stop looking for an answer to the ‘how come’? question. Maybe it’s not animals this time; we have to look at something else.
In the past, each virus has had a known source that shared part of the stigmatization with its human victims. HIV was attributed to chimpanzees that carried Simian Immunodefiency Virus (SIV) a virus related to HIV and was believed to have been transferred to humans who hunted and ate Chimps in the 1920s.
Ebola, another virus that ripped through lives especially in Africa, was attributed to primates too and by extension, fruit bats. Most viruses are animal-borne, and coronavirus shouldn’t be different unless there is something scientists aren’t telling the rest of the world. But even if they’re hiding something, some people will find it out.
In April 2008, when NASA partnered with Geoff Brown and Machine-to-Machine Intelligence (M2Mi) Corp to develop 5G communication technology, the goal was to give the world a faster internet network that will make uploading and downloading of files 100x faster than what it was. It was never to unleash acute pneumonia that will eat through human lungs to the world economy. And to the greater number of people, the goal has not changed.
So it came astonishing when the story linking coronavirus with 5G started flying around the world. The rumor that passed through lisping lips now spreads with the virus with unimaginable speed and effect.
On Facebook, there are a number of groups campaigning for the stoppage of 5G roll outs. A popular one among them is the Stop 5G UK Group. With its more than 27,000 members, it’s pushing the theory that 5G birthed coronavirus, and it has gone beyond Facebook.
A headline of an online article reads: 5G Launches in Wuhan Weeks Before Coronavirus Outbreak. On YouTube, videos promoting the conspiracy theory were increasingly getting shared on other social media networks. In the United States, there’s a song for it supported by a misleading video showing Chinese people destroying 5G masts. (The video was originally from Hong Kong, and has nothing to do with 5G mast.)
But that was then, back in February, when the theory was still in infancy. Right now, it has taken a new dimension and communication technology may be paying dearly for it.
In the UK, 5G network masts are being set on fire. BCC reported fires at masts in Birmingham, Liverpool and Melling in Merseyside. A development that has been fueled by the circulation of videos promoting the theory that there is a link between coronavirus and 5G.
On social media, a video showing a half paralyzed tree standing close to a mast is being shared as evidence that 5G is evil, and a horde of people are swallowing it wholly, despite efforts by the health authorities to refute the claims.
“I’m absolutely outraged and disgusted that people would be taking action against the infrastructure we need to tackle this emergency,” said Stephen Powis, the UK National Health Service (NHS) director.
People are becoming emboldened daily to burn 5G masts through encouragement from social media video clips, TV interviews, Whatsapp messages and radio. A radio guest in the UK who claimed to be a nurse alleged that 5G causes coronavirus because it’s sucking the oxygen out of people’s lungs.
One question the theorists have failed to answer is why the virus is spreading even in countries where there are no 5G masts. Iran has no 5G business so far but has recorded over 55,743 coronavirus cases. African countries are not spared, as cases keep rising in each country on the daily, though they have no 5G roll outs.
A former senator in Nigeria, Dino Melayo is among those pushing the conspiracy theory, calling it evil and urging the federal government not to allow it to be rolled out in the country.
“Whether it is true or not that they are already laying cables of 5G in Nigeria. Government must not allow it in Nigeria and should take a proactive step in that regard,” Melaye said.
Earlier, he had shared a video promoting the theory through his Twitter handle. While some are disappointed that he could stoop that low, others believe the video to be true.
The discipleship of the theory is growing in minutes, creating fear among those who don’t know better. “If a senator in Nigeria should believe it, who am I”? “If a doctor/nurse should believe it in the UK, who am I”? That’s the sentiment fueling it among so many people.
The Minister of Communication and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Ali Pantami, in a bid to calm the fear, has issued a statement telling Nigerians that no license has been issued for 5G yet.
“The attention of my office has been drawn to the public concern about the health implications of the deployment of Fifth Generation Mobile Network (5G in Nigeria. Based on available records at my office and the earlier report received from the regulator, I would like to clarify.
“The national Frequency Management Council (NFMC), of which I am the Chairman, has not deliberated on or released any bulk frequency spectrum for the deployment of 5G. No license has been issued for the deployment of 5G in the country,” Pantami said.
What started like a joke early in the year has gone viral and is gradually becoming not only a cause for panic, but a hindrance to the fight against COVID-19. There is fear by experts that if the conspiracy theory is not contained soon, the world will wage a complicated battle against coronavirus.