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Is 5G technology linked to Covid-19 outbreak?

By Mercy Wanjau | April 17th 2020 at 00:00:00 GMT +0300

People wearing masks walk past a 5G advert as the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues, London, Britain, April 14, 2020. REUTERS/John Sibley

Conspiracy theorists are churning out lies about a new technology that is designed to take the world to Fourth Industrial Revolution.

The Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) – the ICT sector regulator - has noted a sharp spike in public concerns regarding the safety of 5G technology.

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Covid 19 Time Series

 

These concerns peaked recently following the geographic spread of Covid-19 infections globally.

They come as local telecommunications industry prepares to roll out 5G networks in the country.

Unfortunately, some conspiracy theorists have latched onto the ensuing debate to fuel public fear and antipathy against this nascent technology by associating it with the Covid-19 outbreak.

The theorists base their arguments on the fact that Wuhan, the city from where coronavirus emanated, was the first in China to deploy a 5G network. What the doomsayers fail to point out is that Wuhan was one of the 16 Chinese cities to debut 5G.

Interestingly, none of the other cities have reported abnormally high incidences of the virus. Most notably, although China launched the world’s largest 5G network in October 2019, a number of firms in South Korea, UK, Germany and the United States launched commercial 5G services, some on a trial basis, in late 2018.  

Clearly the association of this technology with Covid-19 is spurious and without merit.

More worrying is the theorists’ claim that 5G damages the immune system, leaving affected individuals highly exposed to the disease.

Other theorists claim that 5G mobile networks are being deployed in high frequency bands of up to 60 GHz, thus causing ionization of the oxygen molecules in the air. They claim that this process splits the molecules into two atoms, which then deprive the human body of oxygen, causing instant death.

These accounts are unfounded, as no country has deployed 5G networks in the 60 GHz band. Indeed most 5G networks have been deployed in the 2.6 and 3.5 GHz frequency bands.  Kenya is planning to launch 5G trials in these bands too.

We have noted, with utter disbelief, other social media accounts attributing Covid-19 to viruses excreted from dying human cells whose alleged cause of death is 5G radiation. 

Again these accounts are untrue and misplaced, as the epidemic has hit many countries, including Kenya, that are yet to deploy 5G networks.

The conspiracy theories have triggered increased local consumer and public interest and anxiety on the safety of 5G, a technology that is billed to positively transform all aspects of life, including health care, agriculture, manufacturing and other sectors of the economy.

We urge consumers and members of the public to treat these allegations with the disdain they deserve.

The Kenya Nuclear Regulatory Authority (KNRA) is vested with the responsibility of exercising oversight on non-ionizing radiation in the country under the revised legislation issued last year.

The authority is preparing to enact regulations outlining the allowable non-iodizing radiation level thresholds in Kenya. Radiation from 5G and other preceding technologies is non-iodizing.

Nonetheless, Kenyans should find comfort in the fact that after seven years of research, the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) released 2020 guidelines on limiting exposure to electromagnetic fields, including 5G.  

According to ICNIRP, the main effect that radio frequency electromagnetic fields have on the human body is increased temperature of exposed tissue. The human body effortlessly handles small increases to body temperature.

Overall 5G radiation levels remain low and well below international safety guidelines. Further, there is no evidence that 5G can damage the immune system and thus have a deleterious effect on human health.

Indeed, the World Health Organization (WHO) states that no research has linked exposure to wireless technology with negative health.  WHO regularly updates information on this subject and is set to release additional research findings in 2022.

Conspiracy theories on wireless technology are not new. Virtually all previous mobile communications technologies from 1 to 4G have had their fair share of detractors and critics. Experience has, without exception, served to prove the doomsayers wrong.

Fifth generation technology

Large-scale adoption of 5G technology began in 2019. Today virtually every telecommunication service provider in the developed world is upgrading its infrastructure to offer 5G services.

The technology, which will deliver super-fast, low latency and high capacity Internet, is touted as a game changer. 5G networks will support other innovative applications, including artificial intelligence, smart cities, self-drive cars and machine-to-machine learning.

This will pave way for the Fourth Industrial Revolution and increased economic productivity. As a country, we should not allow detractors to have their way and scare us from adopting this transformative technology.

Lastly, the Government has been regularly providing information on Covid-19 and measures to mitigate the epidemic. I urge Kenyans to adhere to these and WHO measures and disregard any other misleading information.

Mrs Mercy Wanjau is the Ag. Director General of the Communications Authority of Kenya (CA).

Conspiracy theorists are churning out lies about a new technology that is designed to take the world to Fourth Industrial Revolution.

The Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) – the ICT sector regulator - has noted a sharp spike in public concerns regarding the safety of 5G technology.

These concerns peaked recently following the geographic spread of Covid-19 infections globally.

They come as local telecommunications industry prepares to roll out 5G networks in the country.

Unfortunately, some conspiracy theorists have latched onto the ensuing debate to fuel public fear and antipathy against this nascent technology by associating it with the Covid-19 outbreak.

The theorists base their arguments on the fact that Wuhan, the city from where coronavirus emanated, was the first in China to deploy a 5G network. What the doomsayers fail to point out is that Wuhan was one of the 16 Chinese cities to debut 5G.

Interestingly, none of the other cities have reported abnormally high incidences of the virus. Most notably, although China launched the world’s largest 5G network in October 2019, a number of firms in South Korea, UK, Germany and the United States launched commercial 5G services, some on a trial basis, in late 2018.  

Clearly the association of this technology with Covid-19 is spurious and without merit.

More worrying is the theorists’ claim that 5G damages the immune system, leaving affected individuals highly exposed to the disease.

Other theorists claim that 5G mobile networks are being deployed in high frequency bands of up to 60 GHz, thus causing ionization of the oxygen molecules in the air. They claim that this process splits the molecules into two atoms, which then deprive the human body of oxygen, causing instant death.

These accounts are unfounded, as no country has deployed 5G networks in the 60 GHz band. Indeed most 5G networks have been deployed in the 2.6 and 3.5 GHz frequency bands.  Kenya is planning to launch 5G trials in these bands too.

We have noted, with utter disbelief, other social media accounts attributing Covid-19 to viruses excreted from dying human cells whose alleged cause of death is 5G radiation. 

Again these accounts are untrue and misplaced, as the epidemic has hit many countries, including Kenya, that are yet to deploy 5G networks.

The conspiracy theories have triggered increased local consumer and public interest and anxiety on the safety of 5G, a technology that is billed to positively transform all aspects of life, including health care, agriculture, manufacturing and other sectors of the economy.

We urge consumers and members of the public to treat these allegations with the disdain they deserve.

The Kenya Nuclear Regulatory Authority (KNRA) is vested with the responsibility of exercising oversight on non-ionizing radiation in the country under the revised legislation issued last year.

The authority is preparing to enact regulations outlining the allowable non-iodizing radiation level thresholds in Kenya. Radiation from 5G and other preceding technologies is non-iodizing.

Nonetheless, Kenyans should find comfort in the fact that after seven years of research, the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) released 2020 guidelines on limiting exposure to electromagnetic fields, including 5G.  

According to ICNIRP, the main effect that radio frequency electromagnetic fields have on the human body is increased temperature of exposed tissue. The human body effortlessly handles small increases to body temperature.

Overall 5G radiation levels remain low and well below international safety guidelines. Further, there is no evidence that 5G can damage the immune system and thus have a deleterious effect on human health.

Indeed, the World Health Organization (WHO) states that no research has linked exposure to wireless technology with negative health.  WHO regularly updates information on this subject and is set to release additional research findings in 2022.

Conspiracy theories on wireless technology are not new. Virtually all previous mobile communications technologies from 1 to 4G have had their fair share of detractors and critics. Experience has, without exception, served to prove the doomsayers wrong.

Fifth generation technology

Large-scale adoption of 5G technology began in 2019. Today virtually every telecommunication service provider in the developed world is upgrading its infrastructure to offer 5G services.

The technology, which will deliver super-fast, low latency and high capacity Internet, is touted as a game changer. 5G networks will support other innovative applications, including artificial intelligence, smart cities, self-drive cars and machine-to-machine learning.

This will pave way for the Fourth Industrial Revolution and increased economic productivity. As a country, we should not allow detractors to have their way and scare us from adopting this transformative technology.

Lastly, the Government has been regularly providing information on Covid-19 and measures to mitigate the epidemic. I urge Kenyans to adhere to these and WHO measures and disregard any other misleading information.

Mrs Mercy Wanjau is the Ag. Director General of the Communications Authority of Kenya (CA).

 


Fourth Industrial Revolution CA 5G technology Covid-19
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