Our digital society
    08 January 2021


    Dispelling myths around COVID-19 and 5G networks

    There has been a lot of talk on social media suggesting a connection between the novel coronavirus and fifth-generation (5G) technology.

    Article was updated on 08 January 2021. 

    There has been a lot of talk on social media lately suggesting a connection between COVID-19 and 5G technology. There is no evidence that exposure to 5G networks is the cause of the coronavirus. Many health and telecommunication authorities such as The Independent Communications Authority of SA (ICASA), International Telecommunication Union (ITU), The World Health Organisation (WHO), to name a few, have also confirmed that this claim is not true. 

    The International Commission on Non-Ionising Radiation Protection (ICNIRP), published its updated Radio Frequency Electromagnetic Fields international safety guidelines in March of 2020 which state: "There are no adverse effects on human health from 5G frequencies, provided that exposure is within the recommended guidelines." Previous generations of mobile services such as 4G and 3G use lower radio frequencies (in the 6 gigahertz range), whereas 5G uses frequencies in the 30–300 gigahertz range.  

    As the South African Communications Forum (SAC) explains, "Major South African network operators strictly and unconditionally operate their mobile networks within national regulations, which adhere to ICNIRP’s guidelines. In this video below SAC explains how there is no link between COVID-19 and 5G, and debunk the false rumours that 5G is the cause of the novel coronavirus.

    Telecommunications towers burnt in S.Africa by 5G protesters

    About three telecommunications towers belonging to Vodacom and MTN were burnt in the week of January 8th, 2021 following a resurgence in conspiracy theories which link the emergence of COVID-19 to 5G technology, South Africa’s communication minister, Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams, said on Thursday.

    There was little to no impact on Vodacom’s network and the vandalised infrastructure is being repaired, Vodacom’s spokesman Byron Kennedy said in an emailed response.

    “Vodacom would like to reiterate that there is no credible scientific evidence linking 5G or mobile technologies to the spread of coronavirus,” he added.

    Health bodies like the World Health Organization and Public Health England have stated  that no adverse health effects have  so far been linked to 5G frequency exposure. More info can be found on the original Reuters article.

    This is the reason Vodacom operates its mobile networks strictly within national regulations that are typically based on or exceed ICNIRP’s guidelines.

    Vodacom is also committed to assisting government in curbing the spread of fake news about Coronavirus in line with Section 11 (5) of the Emergency Regulations published in the Government Gazette on 18 March 2020. This means that any person who publishes any statement through any medium, including Social Media, with the intention to deceive any other person about COVID-19 commits an offence and is liable for on conviction to a fine and / or imprisonment for a period not exceeding six months. The revised regulations under the Disaster Management Act 2002 also state that it is a criminal offence to publish any statement which aims to provide false or deceptive information pertaining to COVID-19, with penalties for doing so ranging from fines to imprisonment.

     At a time of heightened anxiety around the pandemic, we encourage you to interrogate the sources of all information shared online in order to combat the proliferation of fake news.  

    Please also take note that the cleanliness of your phone and tablet may pose a health risk, not radiation. 

    COVID-19 spreads through small droplets released from the nose or mouth of an infected person when they cough, spit, sneeze, talk or exhale. If those droplets come into contact with a healthy person, they could be infected with the virus. We are in close contact with our cellphones all day, and when you speak on your phone, you could be leaving droplets on it. This is why it is also important not to share it with anyone else during a pandemic, as well as to regularly disinfect your mobile. 

    If you are aware of anyone who may be deliberately spreading fake news around the virus, please email fakenewsalert@dtps.gov.za or WhatsApp 067 966 4015. 

    If you haven’t done so already, please download the Covid Alert SA App. It’s safe, and secure, and could save your life. You can download it for iOS  and for Android .