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Coronavirus Kent: 5G mast fake news conspiracy theories are 'ridiculous', says University of Kent professor

A university lecturer has struck out against rising claims that 5G networks could be the cause of serious health issues.

It comes as an increasing number of rumours circulate on social media groups in Kent about the dangers of the new technology, including false claims that the network rollout could transmit coronavirus.

Watch Professor Gomes talking to KMTV about the claims

Prof Nathan Gomes, who teaches at the School of Engineering and Digital Arts on the University of Kent's Canterbury campus, says the conspiracy theories are getting out of control.

He said: "I know one theory is that the virus is somehow transported by radio waves, which is completely ridiculous and completely impossible, of course.

"Another theory talks about immune systems being affected by 5G and radio signals, and there's no foundation for that at all."

Over the weekend it was reported a number of the new 5G masts were set alight in Liverpool and Birmingham, due to fears of what the signals could do to people's health.

There have been 20 such attacks on mobile telephone masts across the country in the past week.

Prof Nathan Gomes said the theories are 'unfounded'
Prof Nathan Gomes said the theories are 'unfounded'

The professor added: "There have been plenty of studies about it, and none of the studies have linked to any health issues.

"From all the scientific evidence we see, the judgment is that we can use mobile phones and we can move to fifth generation networks.

"The studies have been done to make sure that people are kept safe, and the power levels in use are not going to be damaging to people's health."

One change.org petition calling to cancel the 5G rollout, which has since disappeared from the site, said: "5G can cause respiratory problems for humans, flu-like symptoms and pneumonia, very much like the effects of coronavirus."

The University of Kent campus in Canterbury
The University of Kent campus in Canterbury

Before it vanished, the petition reached almost 100,000 online signatures.

Responding to the claims, Prof Gomes said: "I fail to understand how that could be true."

The 55-year-old explained the higher level of radiation which comes with millimetre frequencies - reportedly one of the concerns some people have with 5G technology - is in fact not even as strong as a regular household lightbulb.

He said: "If you're worried about millimetre wave, you should be worried about sitting under a light bulb or something like that, because there's a lot of electromagnetic magnetic energy at very high frequencies coming out of that, but even that doesn't really damage us."

Prof Gomes says millimetre wave frequencies in 5G are about 10 times stronger than the ones currently used in 4G mobile communications networks, but light coming out of light bulbs is about 10,000 times higher.

"If you're worried about millimetre wave, you should be worried about sitting under a light bulb..."

Although 5G has started to appear in a number of cities across the UK, we do not know when it will arrive in Kent.

But the uni lecturer does believe it will arrive in the area "in the next year or two."

Some of the theories are focusing on the 5G base stations which are being installed closer to public spaces and homes than the much larger telecom towers currently seen across the country.

But the professor says having more masts is actually likely to reduce strength of the already-safe radiowaves even further.

He said: "Having the base station antennae on lampposts and things is not a big problem.

"The power coming out of them is reduced because they're nearer you, therefore the power that goes out of your phone in order to communicate with it is reduced."

Last week when asked about the conspiracy theories linking 5G to Covid-19, cabinet minister Michael Gove branded them "dangerous nonsense", while NHS England’s national medical director Professor Stephen Powis denounced them as “complete and utter rubbish” and “the worst kind of fake news”.

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