The Wuhan coronavirus has nothing to do with 5G

29 January 2020
What was claimed

Wuhan is where 5G was rolled out first.

Our verdict

Wuhan was one of the first places with 5G trials, as well as several other large Chinese cities, like Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou but we don’t know if it was the first.

What was claimed

5G wrecks immune systems and that is why people in Wuhan are suffering with this illness.

Our verdict

There is no evidence that 5G can harm humans, or their immune systems.

What was claimed

The Wuhan coronavirus is a more virulent version of the normal cold.

Our verdict

The new coronavirus observed in Wuhan is a virus in the same family of viruses as the common cold, but is a different illness.

A post on Facebook claims that Wuhan, China, the centre of the new coronavirus outbreak, was where 5G was first rolled out. It suggests that 5G has damaged peoples’ immune systems and so boosted the virulence of the common cold. 

The main implication of the claim—that 5G can impact immune systems—is totally unfounded. There is no evidence linking the new coronavirus to 5G.

It’s true that Wuhan does have some 5G coverage. The local government listed a number of venues with 5G coverage in August 2019. We can’t find evidence it was the very first city with 5G but we’ve seen reports saying Wuhan was one of several Chinese cities where early 5G trials took place. Another said Wuhan was “one of the first pilot cities of the 5G network in China”.

In October 2019, China’s three state telecoms companies announced they would be rolling out phone services that use 5G, and that big cities including Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Hangzhou were already covered by the network.

As we’ve written about before, there is no evidence that 5G is harmful to humans. 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.

There is no evidence that 5G can damage the immune system.

As for the claim that the new coronavirus observed in Wuhan is the “normal cold” with boosted virulence—that is simply not the case.

As we’ve discussed in other fact checks, although the new coronavirus spreading in Wuhan has commonly been referred to by the media and others as just “coronavirus”, it is just one type within this family of viruses.

Coronavirus is a broad category of viruses which includes the common cold, SARS (the severe acute respiratory syndrome of which there were outbreaks in 2002 and 2004) and this new coronavirus identified in people in Wuhan.

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