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3 Apr, 2020 13:05

‘This country is finished’: Unfounded UK ‘5G coronavirus’ conspiracy theories mercilessly mocked

‘This country is finished’: Unfounded UK ‘5G coronavirus’ conspiracy theories mercilessly mocked

Baseless coronavirus theories that suggest the pandemic is linked to the UK government’s rollout of 5G phone networks have been the subject of much hilarity and ridicule by many incredulous Britons.

The Twitter hashtag #5GCoronavirus was trending in the UK on Friday following warnings from media regulator Ofcom that broadcasters face sanctions if they give airtime to potentially harmful views on the alleged causes and origins of Covid-19.

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The move comes after a regional radio station in Uckfield, Sussex, in the south of England gave a platform to a woman claiming to be a “registered nurse” who alleged – without evidence – that the rollout of 5G in Wuhan, China was linked to the outbreak and the deadly virus had been formulated in a lab.

[Ofcom is] not aware of any reputable scientific evidence to corroborate such a contentious claim which runs contrary to all official advice, both in the UK and internationally, about coronavirus.

Such baseless conspiracy theories have spread like wildfire in recent weeks on social media and messaging platforms such as WhatsApp, Facebook, and NextDoor, an increasingly popular community website.

One video in particular, posted on Twitter on Thursday, showing a woman apparently harassing 5G installation workers in the street and alleging links between the cables and coronavirus provoked an avalanche of responses.

The majority of commenters seemed not to be taken in by such alarmist conspiracy theories on Covid-19, with many left dumbfounded that anyone could think that telecoms infrastructure could cause the coronavirus. One person, baffled anyone could believe the theory, remarked: “This country is finished.”

Others online took a more playful approach to the conspiracy theory by inventing some even more ridiculous claims to underscore just how ludicrous it is, including advice to leave a £20 note at front doors if they don’t want the virus. Images were also posted mocking people taken in by the wild suggestions.

The UK, like much of the world, is struggling to contain the spread and impact of the pandemic. On Wednesday, the number of deaths in the UK passed the 2,000 mark as the government was criticized for a lack of personal protective equipment and access to Covid-19 testing for frontline staff.

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