In Australia, more than 200 arrests in Melbourne at rally against containment

A rally against containment, decreed since the end of July to fight the Covid-19 epidemic, degenerated, Saturday, September 18, in Melbourne, Australia. More than 200 protesters have been arrested and police injured in the state capital of Victoria during violent clashes.

Hundreds of people had violated the obligation to stay at home to demonstrate in the second most populous city in the country. Melbourne is experiencing its sixth lockdown since the start of the pandemic and Victoria recorded more than 500 cases of Covid-19 on Saturday.

Read our decryption: In Australia, the zero Covid strategy falters in the face of the Delta variant

Six police officers who had been shot and trampled during clashes with some 700 protesters were hospitalized, police reported. The police used pepper spray. “What we saw today is a group that came together, not to demand more freedoms, but to confront and fight with the police”Victoria Police Commander Mark Galliott told reporters.

People hostile to containment demonstrate in Melbourne, Australia, Saturday, September 18.

Police tried to prevent protesters from entering the city center, blocking roads and stopping public transport, in order to avoid a repeat of the scenes of violence that marked the previous rally in August, in which had taken part thousands of people. The demonstrators therefore found themselves elsewhere. Footage shows a crowd rushing through a police cordon as scuffles erupt along a streetcar line.

Events in Sydney

In Sydney, where containment has been in force since the end of June, a large police device had been deployed in a park to prevent a similar gathering. New South Wales State Police say they have arrested around 20 people in the town and at other rallies (where attendance has been limited) across the state.

Since the start of the pandemic, Australia has recorded one of the lowest SARS-CoV-2 contamination rates in the world thanks to its zero Covid strategy, consisting of strict border closures, tracing of contact cases and ‘intense screening campaigns.

The epidemic resurgence due to the Delta variant in mid-June in Sydney led to a change in strategy and greater support among the population for vaccination against Covid-19. The authorities are now targeting a vaccination rate of 70% to be able to relax the measures.

The World with AFP

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