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Perfect storm: Covid-19, 5G, the police and ‘fake news’

The police are investigating 22 people and clarified what constitutes a 5G related infraction after a telecommunication mast in Limassol was attacked last week.

Speaking to the Cyprus Mail on Thursday, police spokesman Christos Andreou outlined the boundaries for 5G sceptics.

Asked whether someone could be arrested for writing on Facebook that the virus can be transmitted via 5G, he said that: “No, in this case no. But if they said to someone else ‘let’s go destroy’ then that’s a different matter.”

He said that the police are investigating 22 people.

“They don’t need to act out, but an incitement to violence or a call for destruction will lead to a case against them. If they say something like ‘set them on fire, steal, destroy or kill’ then yes.”

Questioning authority is permitted but incitement to violence is not. These are fairly basic rules in European countries, but amid a pandemic and a 5G health-scare it’s worth remembering.

The incident even prompted President Nicos Anastasiades to dismiss “fake news” related to 5G scare stories.

The attack last week was carried out by people who subscribe to the idea that 5G harms people’s health.  The mast in question, the government reiterated, had nothing whatsoever to do with 5G.

Governments, tech companies and the public are fighting an informal battle on various fronts as to whether or not 5G is safe. Many, in the middle, are left scratching their heads.

The coronavirus pandemic has amplified the issue as people scramble for answers and solutions.

Some of the hypotheses (although not an exhaustive list) range from the improbable to the impossible. Some say that immune systems are weakened by 5G and oxygen intake is hampered, worsening Covid-19. One of the more wild ideas out there is that Covid-19 itself does not exist but is instead a coverup for 5G-related illnesses.

Other hypotheses begin on the right track but then wander off into the woods. They point to the fact that Wuhan, where the virus emerged, was one of the first cities in China with mass 5G rollout.

Another strange theory was suggested by a spokesman for China’s foreign ministry, Lijian Zhao. He wrote on Twitter: “It might be US army who brought the epidemic to Wuhan.”

On the other side of the spectrum, BBC medical correspondent Fergus Walsh wrote on Twitter: “If somebody who was infected with coronavirus sneezed into their hand and then wiped their hand on a phone mast and you put your hand on that phone mast and transferred it to your face – that’s the only way a 5G phone mast could give you coronavirus.”

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