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Arsonists attack phone mast serving NHS Nightingale hospital

Guardian Technology 14 Apr 2020 06:07
False theories linking 5G to coronavirus have proliferated rapidly with the help of social media platforms. Photograph: Ben Duffy Photography/Vodafone

A mobile phone mast serving the emergency NHS Nightingale hospital in Birmingham is one of the latest targeted by arsonists who wrongly believe 5G technology is linked to the spread of coronavirus.

Nick Jeffery, the chief executive of Vodafone UK, revealed that a mast providing connectivity to the hospital was attacked over the weekend – bringing the total to more than 40 nationwide.

“It’s heart-rending enough that families cannot be there at the bedside of loved ones who are critically ill,” said Jeffery, in a post on LinkedIn. “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.”

In many cases, mobile networks say, the sites attacked do not yet have 5G technology installed.

West Yorkshire police are investigating a fire which took place in the early hours of Tuesday involving a phone mast attached to a residential building in Huddersfield.

Jeffery, who said that 20 of Vodafone’s masts have now been subject to attacks, added: “Burning down masts means damaging important national infrastructure. In practice, this means families not being able to say a final goodbye to their loved ones; hard-working doctors, nurses, and police officers not being able to phone their kids, partners or parents for a comforting chat.”

On Tuesday, the media regulator Ofcom launched a probe into comments made by Eamonn Holmes on ITV’s This Morning after receiving hundreds of complaints that he appeared to suggest people should not rush to dismiss a potential link between the pandemic and new technology.

Like BT’s Jansen, Jeffery appealed for the attacks to stop. “Arsonists, please think about what you are doing and stop,” he said. “Imagine if it were your mum or dad, your gran or grandad in hospital. Imagine not being able to see or hear them one last time. All because you’ve swallowed a dangerous lie. There is absolutely no link between 5G and coronavirus. There is no science-based evidence 5G is harmful to human health.”

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NHS Nightingale hospitalNick JefferyVodafone UKJefferyWest Yorkshire police
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