£20 notes don’t have a secret message about 5G and coronavirus

6 April 2020
What was claimed

The £20 note shows a 5G tower giving off emissions and a coronavirus symbol.

Our verdict

The ‘5G tower’ is Margate Lighthouse and the ‘coronavirus’ is based on a famous staircase at the Tate Britain art gallery.

What was claimed

5G can make you sick.

Our verdict

There’s no evidence that 5G can harm your health.

We’ve seen a video and images spreading on Facebook, claiming that the design of the new £20 note contains a symbol representing a “5G tower” and the coronavirus. The video also claims that 5G can make you sick. None of this is correct.

The new £20 does look as it appears in these pictures and videos, but the ‘5G tower with signals’ is actually a representation of the Margate lighthouse and the jagged edges above it represent Margate’s Turner Contemporary art gallery.

The shape people have claimed shows the coronavirus is a purple foil patch, containing the letter ‘T’, which is based on the design of a staircase at the Tate Britain. The artist JMW Turner, who appears on the banknote, had connections to both the seaside town and the London gallery.

The claim that 5G makes you sick is not the case. As we’ve discussed before, there is no evidence to suggest 5G is harmful to health. 5G has nothing to do with the new coronavirus, or its rapid spread.

5G is the next generation of wireless network technology, following on from 4G. Like 4G, 3G and 2G before it, 5G mobile data is transmitted over radio waves—a small part of the whole electromagnetic spectrum (which includes microwaves, visible light and X-rays).

These radio waves are non-ionising, meaning they don’t damage the DNA inside cells, as X-rays, gamma rays and UV rays are able to do. 5G, although at slightly higher frequencies than previous networks, is still in this radio part of the electromagnetic spectrum.

Public Health England has said that there’s no “convincing evidence” that exposure below International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation guidelines can cause adverse health effects. These guidelines go up to 300GHz, whereas the maximum for 5G will probably only be in the tens of GHz.

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