Villagers in rural Peru have detained technicians from broadband provider Gilat Peru over fears they were installing 5G technology, which they claimed was responsible for the coronavirus, police and the company said Friday.
The eight-member maintenance crew have been held since Wednesday by villagers in Acobamba province, more than 500 kilometers (300 miles) southeast of the capital Lima.The incident occurred late Wednesday when workers were sent to maintain an antenna in mountainous Acobamba’s Huancavelica region.
“They have detained eight workers from a telephone company, who maintained the antennas that provide internet to public places such as educational centers, under the pretext that they are 5G antennas that, in some way, cause Covid-19,” regional police chief Alejandro Oviedo told TV Peru.
“They were held when they tried to leave and we had no communication with them since Wednesday night,” said Gilat Peru spokesman Arieh Rohrstoc. “They mistakenly think Covid is transmitted by radio waves, our technology is wireless, and the virus cannot be transmitted by electromagnetic waves,” he said. Farmers from the Huachhua Chopcca community in Acobamba demanded the technicians remove existing antennas as a condition of their release.
“The engineers have not been kidnapped,” community spokesman Lorenzo Escobar told PPP radio, adding that they were free to move around and were given food. He said the men had been held when they entered the area after the start of the nighttime curfew and had broken quarantine rules. Escobar said the community council would hold talks with Gilat Peru representatives on Saturday and the men would be released.
Peru is the second-most afflicted country behind Brazil in Latin America, with more than 214,000 confirmed cases and more than 6,000 deaths. Acobamba province, which rises to just about 4,000 meters above sea level, has one of the country’s lowest infection rates.
Due to spread of misinformation and lack of awareness about the virus, paranoia and hysteria has spread rapidly around the world . As reported by The Hindu in April, mainly people around the world have been tearing down cell phone towers believing especially 5G towers to be linked to the spread of the Corona-virus.
I was reported that in the month of April alone , 50 towers had been damaged in Britain, and 16 in the Netherlands, along with similar reports surfacing from Ireland, Cyprus, and Belgium as well.
Popular beliefs and the conspiracy theories that wireless communications pose a threat have long been around, but the global spread of the virus at the time that countries were rolling out fifth generation wireless technology has seen some of those false narratives amplified.
“I am absolutely outraged, absolutely disgusted, that people would be taking action against the very infrastructure that we need to respond to this emergency,” said Stephen Powis, Medical Director of the National Health Service in England, in early April.
Posting treats of attacking phone masts were received on likes of Facebook.One Anti-Vaccine Group posted in April on Facebook 12 photos of charred phone mast, with quote, “Nobody wants cancer and covid19. Stop trying to make it happen or every pole and mobile store will end up like this one.”