(Sydney) More than 200 people were arrested on Saturday after violent clashes between protesters opposed to the lockdown and police in Australia’s two largest cities, Sydney and Melbourne, police said.
Posted on Aug 21, 2021 at 8:19 am
The state of New South Wales, where Sydney is located, recorded 825 new cases in 24 hours on Saturday, a record for the country the day after the June city closure was extended to late September to stop the spread of the Delta variant.
“No matter how hard we try, even if 99% of the people do the right thing, there is an element of Delta that no one controls,” New South Wales Prime Minister Gladys Berejiklian told reporters. “The best way to regain our freedom is to make sure we’re vaccinated.”
Another epidemic in the state of Victoria, where Melbourne is located, also led to an expansion of containment across the state on Saturday.
Thousands of people expressed their anger in a protest against containment in Melbourne on Saturday. Police used pepper spray in violent clashes with demonstrators.
Seven police officers were injured and more than 200 people arrested during the demonstration, who issued a statement describing them as “violent and illegal” by Victoria State Police.
“Despite the presence of peaceful demonstrators, the majority of participants had violent intentions,” she said.
In Sydney, more than 1,500 police officers have been mobilized, roadblocks put in place and dozens of the 250 or so people arrested, New South Wales police said.
Anti-containment rallies were also held in Brisbane.
Since the pandemic started, Australia has recorded more than 42,000 cases of COVID-19 with 974 deaths out of a population of 25 million.
In addition to the lockdown imposed in Sydney at the end of June, the restrictions have been extended to two states and the Australian capital Canberra, which affects more than 15 million people.
To date, barely 30% of the population has received two doses of the vaccine, and the progression of the Delta variant is jeopardizing costly efforts to fully eradicate COVID-19.
The nationwide vaccination campaign has accelerated in recent weeks, with authorities setting a target of more than 70% vaccinations before easing restrictions.