Telecommunications workers held in Peru over Covid-19 5G scare
Villagers in rural Peru have detained technicians from broadband provider Gilat Peru over fears they were installing 5G technology, which they claimed was responsible for the coronavirus, police and the company said Friday.
The eight-member maintenance crew have been held since Wednesday by villagers in Acobamba province, more than 500 kilometers (300 miles) southeast of the capital Lima.
“They have detained eight workers from a telephone company, who maintained the antennas that provide internet to public places such as educational centers, under the pretext that they are 5G antennas that, in some way, cause Covid-19,” regional police chief Alejandro Oviedo told TV Peru.
The incident occurred late Wednesday when workers were sent to maintain an antenna in mountainous Acobamba’s Huancavelica region.
“They were held when they tried to leave and we had no communication with them since Wednesday night,” said Gilat Peru spokesman Arieh Rohrstoc.
“They mistakenly think Covid is transmitted by radio waves, our technology is wireless, and the virus cannot be transmitted by electromagnetic waves,” he said.
Farmers from the Huachhua Chopcca community in Acobamba demanded the technicians remove existing antennas as a condition of their release.
“The engineers have not been kidnapped,” community spokesman Lorenzo Escobar told PPP radio, adding that they were free to move around and were given food.
He said the men had been held when they entered the area after the start of the nighttime curfew and had broken quarantine rules.
Escobar said the community council would hold talks with Gilat Peru representatives on Saturday and the men would be released.
Peru is the second-worst affected country in Latin America after Brazil, with more than 214,000 confirmed cases and over 6,000 deaths.
The province of Acobamba, which rises to nearly 4,000 meters above sea level, has one of the lowest infection rates in the country.