Protests in Australia’s Melbourne could accelerate Covid-19 outbreak, authorities fear
SYDNEY: In the Australian state of Victoria, healthcare workers battling a rising number of Covid-19 cases believe that a series of violent demonstrations in the capital city of Melbourne could trigger an even worse spike in the disease.
On Friday morning, police riot squads, armed with tear gas and rubber bullets were bracing for further clashes with protesters who have rioted through the city’s streets for the past four days.
The demonstrations were sparked by vaccine mandates imposed on construction workers but have quickly devolved into a broader show of pent-up fury against the ongoing lockdowns imposed on the city as well as people opposed to vaccinations.
Since one of the demonstrators on Wednesday has been hospitalised with Covid-19, raising the prospect that the closely packed crowds will become “super-spreaders” for the highly virulent Delta strain of the virus.
The protests have been widely condemned throughout Victoria with healthcare workers, who are reeling from their caseloads, thus voicing their dismay.
An open letter from the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation’s Lisa Fitzpatrick eloquently expressed a common sentiment.
“Nurses, midwives and carers are exhausted and frustrated as they watch protesters fight for their right to overwhelm our health system,” Fitzpatrick wrote.
“Only respectful dialogue, not violence, can resolve the issues driving people apart.”
The state recorded 733 new local cases and one death on Friday.
Meanwhile, the state of New South Wales (NSW), which is dealing with Australia’s largest Covid-19 outbreak, recorded 1,043 new local cases and 11 deaths in the 24 hours up to 8:00 p.m. local time Thursday.
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