Another two cellphone towers burned in suspicious blazes linked to COVID-19 conspiracy theories

Two more cellphone towers in south Auckland have been the target of suspicious fires overnight.

The latest incidents were at sites on Blaines Rd in Weymouth and Palmers Rd in Clendon Park.

Vandals have struck at more than a dozen cellphone towers nationwide in recent weeks. Spark, Vodafone and 2degrees say they are causing damage and disruption to services and potentially putting lives at risk.

There have been reports the attacks could be linked to believers of a debunked conspiracy theory doing the rounds on social media that the COVID-19 outbreak was caused by 5G wireless technology.

Similar attacks have been reported overseas.

The theory - which has been disproven and dismissed by many experts - claims that 5G either weakens the immune system, making people more susceptible to catching COVID-19, or that COVID-19 doesn't exist and the pandemic is a vast cover-up to hide the effects of 5G. 

Vodafone spokesperson Tony Baird told Newshub earlier this week the fires are "infuriating".

"They can have real connectivity impacts for New Zealanders - meaning people could have reduced mobile phone and internet coverage in an area with a damaged cell site."

Martin Sharrock of 2degrees agreed, saying the vandalism is dangerous.

"This is senseless activity and sadly, the greatest damage it causes is to the local homes and businesses who are having their technology cut off at a time when they need it most.”

5G waves are non-ionising, which means they can't damage the DNA in our cells, scientists say. The current standards limit telcos to 50 times below the harmful level of radiation. 

"The radio waves used for 5G have frequencies that are ten thousand times too low to damage molecules," Chief Science Advisor to the Prime Minister Juliet Gerrard said last year. "The only fully documented way 5G radio waves can cause harm is through their heating effect and this can only happen at very high intensities."

As 5G signals don't travel as far as 4G, more of them will be required - but this also means the network will operate more efficiently, so the towers will run at reduced power levels compared to 4G, further reducing the risks. 

"The majority of studies show that there is no relationship between weak electromagnetic field exposure and symptoms or health," University of Auckland health psychology professor Keith Petrie said in July.

"Some people report that they are sensitive to the electromagnetic fields used in mobile phones and Wi-Fi. Studies show that such people do experience symptoms, but only when they know they are being exposed. In double-blind conditions where they are exposed without knowing whether the electromagnetic field is on or off, no reliable effects are apparent."