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Debunked: No, "COV 19" was not found inscribed on a circuit board for a 5G mast

The claim was made in a video that has gone viral on social media.

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A VIRAL VIDEO that claims circuit boards with the letters COV 19 are being installed in 5G masts has been shared thousands of times on social media. 

In the video, a man who says he has been employed to erect 5G masts describes how he opened some of the equipment which was due to be put into a mast and found the letters COV 19. 

The video is the latest in a series of claims falsely linking coronavirus and 5G. 

The claim in this case is a hoax: the circuit board shown in the video is from an old set-top TV box. It has nothing to do with 5G and it never had the letters COV 19 inscribed on it when it was distributed to customers. 

 The claim

In the 55-second video, a man wearing a hard hat, a mask and high-viz clothing is standing on a residential street in front of a large tower. 

cov 5g

His accent is difficult to place at times, but seems to be from northern England. Given that, and the right-hand drive cars and the architecture of the street, it is likely that the video was taken in England. 

He says that he has been “working erecting 5G masts on towers like the one behind me for the past few weeks” and has opened some of the equipment he has been given, despite being asked not to. 

He shows a circuit board to the camera which has the letters COV 19 inscribed in a corner on a silver component. “I’m not a fucking conspiracy theorist,” he says. “Obviously I’ve read all that stuff online about coronavirus and Covid-19, but why the fuck are they putting circuitry like that in towers like that.”

cov circuit board

The man’s claim is false. The circuit board comes from an old Virgin Media TV box which would have been distributed from around 2011 and has been discontinued for a few years. 

The circuit board in question also never had the letters COV 19 on it, suggesting that they were added at a later date. 

A photograph below shows a photo of one of the circuit boards. The letters COV 19 are not shown on them. 

“That is a board from a very old set top TV box and which never featured any component parts inscribed/stamped/printed or otherwise with COV 19,” a spokesperson for Virgin Media told TheJournal.ie. 

“It has absolutely no relation with any mobile network infrastructure, including that used for 5G.”

Virgin Media said that circuit board looked like a Cisco 4585 HD card which they began distributing to customers around 2011. 

254463ed-b323-464d-ad87-bf71de258354 A photo of a board showing no Cov 19 marking Source: Virgin Media press office

The video has been shared around the world on social media, including in Australia and the US as well as Ireland. 

There have been a large number of conspiracy theories connecting 5G with the coronavirus pandemic in recent months. 

The theories, which generally either suggest that Covid-19 can be transmitted by 5G or that 5G makes people more susceptible to catching it, have no basis in truth but have been widely shared on social media. 

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There is a lot of false news and scaremongering being spread in Ireland at the moment about coronavirus. Here are some practical ways for you to assess whether the messages that you’re seeing – especially on WhatsApp – are true or not. 

STOP, THINK AND CHECK

Look at where it’s coming from. Is it someone you know? Do they have a source for the information (e.g. the HSE website) or are they just saying that the information comes from someone they know? A lot of the false news being spread right now is from people claiming that messages from ‘a friend’ of theirs. Have a look yourself – do a quick Google search and see if the information is being reported elsewhere.

Secondly, get the whole story, not just a headline. A lot of these messages have got vague information (“all the doctors at this hospital are panicking”) and don’t mention specific details. This is often – but not always a sign – that it may not be accurate.

Finally, see how you feel after reading it. A lot of these false messages are designed to make people feel panicked. They’re deliberately manipulating your feelings to make you more likely to share it. If you feel panicked after reading something, check it out and see if it really is true.

Have you gotten a message on WhatsApp or Facebook or Twitter about coronavirus that you’re not sure about and want us to check it out? Message or mail us and we’ll look into debunking it. WhatsApp: 085 221 4696 or Email: answers@thejournal.ie 

TheJournal.ie’s FactCheck is a signatory to the International Fact-Checking Network’s Code of Principles. You can read it here. For information on how FactCheck works, what the verdicts mean, and how you can take part, check out our Reader’s Guide here. You can read about the team of editors and reporters who work on the factchecks here

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About the author:

Christine Bohan

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