Coronavirus-inspired conspiracy theories have sparked dozens of attacks on telephone network masts in Britain and the Netherlands, with the perpetrators apparently believing 5G transmissions are the cause of the disease.
“In Britain, 20 masts belonging to telecommunications giant Vodafone have been set ablaze,’’ the firm’s chief in Britain Nick Jeffery said on Monday.
In the Netherlands there have been 16 attacks in recent weeks, at the weekend two masts in Amsterdam caught fire.
“There is absolutely no link between 5G and the coronavirus, there is no science-based evidence 5G is harmful to human health,’’ Jeffery wrote recently on careers platform LinkedIn.
Experts say the theory that 5G masts are responsible for the pandemic is “total madness”, while British cabinet minister Michael Gove called it “dangerous nonsense”.
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte warned of the consequences of destroying masts.
“It’s life-threatening because it directly affects emergency calls,’’ he said.
Vodafone’s Jeffrey said that one of the British masts attacked provided mobile service to a hospital in the central English town of Birmingham.
“It’s heart-rending enough that families cannot be there at the bedside of loved ones who are critically ill.
“It’s even more upsetting that even the small solace of a phone or video call may now be denied them because of the selfish actions of a few deluded conspiracy theorists,’’ he said
According to National Health Service England director Stephen Powis, mobile phone networks are essential in the fight against the pandemic.
“I’m absolutely outraged and disgusted that people would be taking action against the infrastructure; we need to tackle this emergency,’’ he said.