Villagers in rural Peru have freed eight technicians from broadband provider Gilat Peru who were held over fears they were installing 5G technology, which locals claim is responsible for the coronavirus, police said Saturday.

The eight-member maintenance crew had been held since Wednesday by villagers in Acobamba province, more than 500 kilometers (300 miles) southeast of the capital Lima,

"All of them have been released," Leni Palacios of Huancavelica police told AFP, adding that the workers said they were in good shape.

Palacios said the workers' release came after a meeting between locals and a commission made up of officials from the Ministry of Transport, the regional government and Gilat Peru.

Workers installing a 5G antenna in Orem, Utah in November 2019
Workers installing a 5G antenna in Orem, Utah in November 2019 Getty / GEORGE FREY

Transport Ministry spokesman Jose Aguilar told RPP Radio that Peru has no 5G antennas, and that regardless, they are not linked to COVID-19.

Locals in Chopcca had told the repair crew they would not be allowed to leave until they took down existing antennas in Acobamba.

With 33 million people, 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.