Australian police arrested hundreds of anti-lockdown protesters in Melbourne and Sydney on Aug. 21, and seven officers were hospitalized due to clashes, as the country saw its highest-ever single-day rise in COVID cases, Report informs referring to Reuters.
Mounted police used pepper spray in Melbourne to break up crowds of more than 4,000 surging toward police lines. At the same time, smaller groups of protesters were prevented from congregating in Sydney by a large contingent of riot police.
Police in New South Wales, where Sydney is the capital, said they charged 47 people with breaching public health orders or resisting arrest, among other offenses, and issued more than 260 fines. The police said about 250 people made it to the city for the protest.
Sydney, Australia’s biggest city with more than 5 million people, has been in a strict lockdown for more than two months, failing to contain an outbreak that has spread across internal borders and as far as neighboring New Zealand.
The vast majority of the 894 cases reported across Australia on Aug. 21 were found in Sydney, the epicenter of the Delta variant-fueled outbreak.
Australia has had about 43,000 COVID-19 cases and 978 deaths. But while those numbers are low, only about a third of Australians aged 16 and above have been fully vaccinated, according to federal health ministry data released on Aug. 21.
New South Wales officials reported three deaths and 516 people in hospital on Saturday. Of the 85 people in intensive care, 76 were unvaccinated, officials said.