“This document contains valuable alternative resources regarding the monumental lies and deceptions that have been told to us by the Government and the controlled mainstream media.”
This was the message found on the doormat of some Rugby residents yesterday as the global Covid-19 death toll surpassed one million.
The letter arrived in the letterboxes of a residential road in the town, CoventryLive understands, from some time between 7 and 8:30 am, and appeared to suggest Covid-19 is a scam.
It went on to label social distancing as a “restriction on our human rights” urging people “in their masses” to “not comply with this tyranny any longer.”
It also promised to provide “helpful information about the Covid-19 ‘pandemic’ that you won’t have heard from the BBC evening news”.
And for one recipient, who lost their sister-in law to Covid-19 in April, it was a particularly galling read.
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The Rugby resident, who wished to remain anonymous, described to CoventryLive what happened next.
“I thought what’s this? Maybe helpful information about the pandemic? When all of this kicked off I was shielding because of the medication I take, my husband’s older than me and he’s vulnerable because of his age, and I thought it was a letter from the council.
“When it said about [Covid-19] being controlled and not real, I thought for god’s sake.”
They added: “Why would they fake something like this?
“The more it goes on, people are dying from this, and my husband’s sister unfortunately got it and she passed away aged 84. She got Covid-19 in hospital when she was in for an operation and her death was registered as being down to Covid-19, obviously the family was upset.”
What did the letter say?
Addressing the reader as “Dear friend” the double sided letter detailed 13 bullet points that purportedly show Covid-19 to be a based on “bad science, contradictions and falsehoods being told by official sources.”
It started off with a plea to the reader to “not dismiss this as a conspiracy theory but instead consider avoiding the TV news and researching the subject yourself.”
It then listed sources, and incomplete YouTube hyperlinks claiming that Covid-19 is everything from “the biggest crime in a century” to made up figures “to create the impression that the virus continues to spread.”
It signed off with a call to action to the reader: “The future freedoms of our children and grandchildren rely on all of us making the right decision and standing up for ourselves and them, right now. We won’t get another chance.”
It also linked to a video hosting website BitChute, a website that has been accused of harbouring racist and harmful content, including material emanating from Coventry and Warwickshire and given a far-right spin.
The insidious spread of Covid-19 conspiracy theories over the past few months has been rapid, but also complex, and has seen the creation of sophisticated websites and organisations that push for financial contributions or mass protests.
For example one source in the letter links to is a website called “covileaks”, a seemingly slick website which states it was “born in response to mainstream media propaganda and government misinformation surrounding the COVID-19 ‘pandemic'”, then going on to ask readers for donations to “run the infrastructure and promotion of the site across the internet.”
Watch: Coronavirus latest September 29
Misleading claims like the ones listed in this letter, can have harmful and even fatal consequences. A taxi driver in the US who believed conspiracy theories claiming coronavirus was a hoax, later lost his wife to the virus.
In the UK, a man who said he thought the virus was ‘b******’ posted a video from his hospital bed on an ICU last week urging people to take it seriously.
And it is particularly harmful that the material is being circulated in Rugby, which has the highest rate of positive coronavirus cases per 100,000 people in Warwickshire, at more than double the rate of other towns in the county such as Stratford.
Mark Pawsey, MP for Rugby, outlined the latest on the situation in the House of Commons on Monday, September 28.
He said the number of cases in Rugby currently stands at 63 cases per 100,000 people – almost double the Warwickshire average of 36.
He said the figures came as “quite a shock” – and shed some light on the origins of the outbreak in Rugby, saying that the ‘vast majority’ of cases were of people aged 17 to 19.
“There are ‘real concerns’ about transmission to their older relatives”, he said. “Older people tend to be more vulnerable to the complications of Covid” he said.
Most news outlets run stringent fact checking services, and the BBC has even appointed their very own specialist disinformation reporter, Marianna Spring, who specifically reports on Covid-19 conspiracy theories and the ‘anti mask’ movement, which has seen protests take place across the country.
On Saturday, police clashed with anti-mask and anti-lockdown demonstrators in London.
‘They ought to get these conspiracy theorists into the wards’
The Rugby resident we spoke to did not plan to take any notice of the letter, but said it might appear to be convincing to others.
The said: “It made me laugh, it’s on glossy paper, it’s not been printed at home, someone has gone to that expense, there are going to be people that believe it unfortunately, but I thought my god how stupid is that? What a waste of money, I don’t think I would have felt any differently even if we hadn’t lost a family member to it.”
The resident and their partner fall into the group that had to shield as Covid-19 cases began to rise, and emphasised they have been following the strict guidelines to stay safe.
“We’re just making sure we’re not in big crowds of people, washing our hands regularly, we’re just being careful but we have all the way through, you’ve got to haven’t you? We will continue to until it’s disappeared completely, or until they come out with a vaccine.”
And reflecting on the possible impact of the letter, they said: “You put in a few truths and people think oh that’s right, so the rest of it must be right, it then appears to be all true. If you talk to nurses who have actually dealt with this it’s a total different story, it’s a real eye opener.
“They ought to get these conspiracy theorists into the wards to see what’s happening, see what’s real then!”
“There’s always going to be unscrupulous people out there, what their end game is I don’t know.”
Have you received a letter through the post appearing to promote Covid-19 conspiracies? If so, get in touch with our community reporter Naomi: email@example.com