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Hundreds arrested in protests in Australia as the country sees a worst rise in covid

 

Hundreds arrested in protests in Australia as the country sees a worst rise in covid

Hundreds of people were arrested Saturday in Australia's two largest cities following violent clashes between demonstrators protesting the lockdown and police, as the country recorded the sharpest rise in daily Covid 19 cases since the pandemic began.

Sydney, in New South Wales state, reported 825 infections - a record for the entire country, a day after authorities extended the city's lockdown until at least September to prevent the Delta variant.

"No matter how hard we work, no matter if 99 per cent of people do the right thing, there is an element of Delta that no one can control," NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian told the media.

"The best way to counter freedom is to make sure we get vaccinated."

A growing outbreak of the disease in Melbourne's Victoria state-led to the ban being extended to the entire state on Saturday.

But the orders from Melbourne health officials did not stop thousands from venting their anger in a protest march that saw police use pepper spray in violent clashes with demonstrators.

Seven officers were injured and more than 200 people were arrested in the "violent and unlawful" protest, Victoria Police said in a statement.

"While there were some peaceful protesters present, the majority of participants were intent on violence," it said.

Hundreds arrested in protests in Australia as the country sees a worst rise in covid

In Sydney, more than 1,500 police flooded the city, setting up roadblocks and arresting dozens of people as about 250 people gathered there, NSW police said.

A large crowd was also reported in Brisbane at a rally against the curfew.

The Sydney curfew was imposed in late June and restrictions now extend to two states and the nation's capital, affecting more than 15 million people.

Less than one-third of Australia's population is fully vaccinated, and the arrival of Delta threatens to jeopardize the hard-won goal of "covid zero."

After a slow rollout, nationwide vaccination efforts have accelerated in recent weeks, and officials have set a goal of achieving more than 70 per cent vaccination coverage before restrictions are relaxed.

The Sydney outbreak has also been linked to a case that triggered a nationwide lockdown in New Zealand.

In Australia, more than 42,000 cases have been recorded in a population of more than 25 million since the pandemic began, with 974 deaths attributed to the virus.

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