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Attacks on 5G mobile masts surge over Easter

Attacks on mobile masts surged over the Easter weekend, with a further 20 suspected arson cases being reported.

The attacks come as a deeply flawed and scientifically ignorant conspiracy theory is spreading linking the deployment of 5G antennas to the COVID-19 outbreak.

According to mobile networks, incidents were reported in England, Wales and Scotland over the bank holiday – and follow others the previous weekend.

How do you make a misinformation vaccine?
How do you make a misinformation vaccine?

Additional incidents have been reported on Tuesday.

According to West Yorkshire Police, a phone mast in Huddersfield was found ablaze on Tuesday morning – destroying critical infrastructure used by the emergency services.

Six fire engines were needed to tackle the blaze which was described as a “significant fire that posed risk to occupants of 37 flats in the four-storey building”.

Three men were also arrested on suspicion of arson in Dagenham, Essex, on Tuesday morning after a phone mast was set on fire there – causing nearby residences to be evacuated as a precaution.

More from Covid-19

CARDIFF, UNITED KINGDOM - APRIL 04: A 5G mobile phone mast on April 04, 2020 in Cardiff, United Kingdom. There have been isolated cases of 5G phone masts being vandalised following claims online that the masts are responsible for coronavirus. The Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has spread to many countries across the world, claiming over 70,000 lives and infecting over 1 million people. (Photo by Matthew Horwood/Getty Images)
Image: Mobile masts are being erected as critical infrastructure during the lockdown

A spokesperson for MobileUK, the mobile network operators’ trade group, told Sky News: “Theories being spread about 5G are baseless and are not grounded in credible scientific theory.

“Mobile operators are dedicated to keeping the UK connected, and careless talk could cause untold damage.

“Continuing attacks on mobile infrastructure risks lives and at this challenging time the UK’s critical sectors must be able to focus all their efforts fighting this pandemic.”

A telecommunications mast damaged by fire is seen in Sparkhill, masts have in recent days been vandalised amid conspiracy theories linking the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) and 5G masts, Birmingham, Britain, April 6, 2020. REUTERS/Carl Recine
Image: An attack on a mast in Sparkhill, Birmingham, took place last week

It comes as TV watchdog Ofcom said it was assessing comments made by This Morning presenter Eamonn Holmes about 5G and the coronavirus.

Holmes was criticised for causing “untold damage” after he said it was “very easy” to dismiss the conspiracy theory when doing so “suits the state narrative”.

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Gove: 5G conspiracy theory ‘dangerous nonsense’

After last weekend’s attacks, NHS England’s medical director said he was “outraged and disgusted” at conspiracy theorists spreading the claims.

Professor Stephen Powis, speaking alongside Cabinet Minister Michael Gove during a government coronavirus briefing, dismissed the claims as “rubbish”.

“The 5G story is complete and utter rubbish, it’s nonsense, it’s the worst kind of fake news,” said Prof Powis.

“The reality is the mobile phone networks are absolutely critical to all of us, especially when we’re at home and unable to see families and friends,” he added.

“I am absolutely outraged and disgusted that people would be taking action against the infrastructure we need to get through this crisis.”

On Tuesday, another 778 patients with coronavirus were reported to have died in hospitals across the UK, taking the nationwide total to 12,107.

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