Mobile phone masts have been torched and engineers abused over “baseless” theories linking coronavirus to 5G.
UK mobile network providers have warned against the spread of the theories after videos showing masts on fire were posted on social media.
Masts were set alight in Sparkhill, Birmingham, on Thursday and Melling, Merseyside, on Friday.
Trade body Mobile UK, which represents network providers, said the false rumours and theories were “concerning”.
In a statement on Twitter, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport said it was “aware of inaccurate information being shared online about 5G”.
“There is absolutely no credible evidence of a link between 5G and coronavirus,” it added.
In Melling, Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service said it extinguished a 5G mast tower fire near the M57 motorway late on Friday.
There was damage to the mast and control panels, a spokesman said.
West Midlands Fire Service said the fire in Birmingham on Thursday involved a 70ft tower on a telecommunications site. However, the service said the cause was yet to be identified and could not confirm the mast was 5G.
A West Midlands Police spokesman said: “We’re aware of a fire involving a phone mast, but are awaiting further details on its cause.”
On Friday, Facebook removed a page which showed several videos claiming to show 5G towers on fire and encouraged others to do the same.
In addition to warning on the theories about the safety of 5G technologies, Mobile UK added: “More worryingly some people are also abusing our key workers and making threats to damage infrastructure under the pretence of claims about 5G.
“This is not acceptable and only impacts on our ability as an industry to maintain the resilience and operational capacity of the networks to support mass home working and critical connectivity to the emergency services, vulnerable consumers and hospitals.”
Analysis – Leo Kelion, technology desk editor
Conspiracy theories linking 5G signals to the coronavirus pandemic continue to spread despite there being no evidence the mobile phone signals pose a health risk.
Fact-checking charity Full Fact has linked the claims to two flawed theories.
One suggests 5G suppresses the immune system, the other claims the virus is somehow using the network’s radio waves to communicate and pick victims, accelerating its spread.
While 5G uses different radio frequencies to its predecessors, it’s important to recognise that the waveband involved is still “non-ionising”, meaning it lacks enough energy to break apart the DNA in our cells to cause damage.
The second theory appears to be based on the work of a Nobel Prize-winning biologist who suggested bacteria could generate radio waves.
But this remains a controversial idea and well outside mainstream scientific thought.
There’s another major flaw with both these theories. Coronavirus is spreading in UK cities where 5G has yet to be deployed, and in countries like Japan and Iran that have yet to adopt the technology.