Some conspiracy theorists alleged that the coronavirus outbreak was a cover-up for a 5G-related illness.
In February 2020, BBC reported that conspiracy theorists on social media groups alleged a link between coronavirus and 5G mobile networks, claiming that Wuhan and Diamond Princess outbreaks were directly caused by electromagnetic fields and the introduction of 5G and wireless technologies.
Some conspiracy theorists also alleged that the coronavirus outbreak was cover-up for a 5G-related illness. In March 2020, Thomas Cowan, a holistic medical practitioner who trained as a physician and operates on probation with Medical Board of California, alleged that coronavirus is caused by 5G, based on the claims that African countries were not affected significantly by the pandemic and Africa was not a 5G region. Cowan also falsely alleged that the viruses were wastes from cells that are poisoned by electromagnetic fields and historical viral pandemics coincided with the major developments in radio technology. The video of his allegations went viral; both the claims and the video, which were endorsed by singer Keri Hilson, were criticized on social media and debunked by Reuters, USA Today, Full Fact and American Public Health Association executive director Georges C. Benjamin.
Engineers working for Openreach have had to resort to posting pleas on anti-5G Facebook groups asking to be spared abuse as they are not involved with maintaining mobile networks. Mobile UK said that the incidents were affecting attempts to maintain networks that support home working and provide critical connections to vulnerable customers, emergency services and hospitals. A widely circulated video shows people working for broadband company Community Fibre being abused by a woman who accuses them of installing 5G as part of a plan to kill the population.
After telecommunications masts in several parts of the United Kingdom were torched, British Cabinet Officer Minister Michael Gove said the theory that COVID-19 virus may be spread by 5G wireless communication is "just nonsense, dangerous nonsense as well."
YouTube announced that it would reduce the amount of content claiming links between 5G and coronavirus. Videos that are conspiratorial about 5G that don't mention coronavirus would not be removed, though they might be considered "borderline content", removed from search recommendations and losing advertising revenue. Vodafone announced that two Vodafone masts and two it shares with O2 had been targeted. The discredited theories had been shared online by several celebrities.