Melbourne anti-vaxxer rally: Police officers have been rushed into isolation after coming into contact with a protestor at Melbourne‘s anti-vaxxer demonstrations who was infected with Covid.
Victoria Police said a ‘small number’ of officers have been tested and told to self-isolate after being exposed to the protester at the rally in Melbourne’s CBD on Wednesday.
The protester is now being treated for Covid-19 in hospital.
A small number of Victorian police officers have been forced into isolation after a protestor tested positive for Covid following Wednesday’s large-scale protests. Pictured are officers at the protest
Pictured: Victoria Police arrest a man at Friday’s protest in All Nations Park, Melbourne
The force said for operational reasons the exact number of officers in isolation would not be revealed.
‘Victoria Police’s priority first and foremost is to ensure the safety of its people and the community,’ a spokesman said in a statement.
‘The community can be assured that service delivery to the public will remain unaffected during this time.’
The Department of Health confirmed the person who tested positive is being treated and that public health investigations were underway.
Health Minister Martin Foley said the Covid-positive protestor was in hospital and would be treated with the ‘same high level of care’ as anyone else in the hospital.
‘To pretend that something doesn’t exist and then for that very thing to put you in hospital is a message loud and clear that protesting against Covid-19 is futile,’ he said.
Health Minister Martin Foley commented the Covid positive protestor was so unwell they had to be hospitalised (pictured police officers attend protests in Melbourne on September 22)
Health officials are concerned this case could turn the protests into a super-spreader event due to the large amount of people in attendance not wearing masks and not vaccinated.
They are urging anyone who attended the protests to get tested immediately if they are experiencing Covid symptoms, no matter how mild
On Friday, Victoria’s Chief Health Officer Professor Brett Sutton denounced the protests, remarking they are an ‘insult to every healthcare worker.’
The Department of Health confirmed the demonstrator was among those at Victoria’s Shrine of Remembrance where dramatic scenes played out on Wednesday.
Health officials are worried these protests could become a superspreader event due to the large amounts of people gathering not wearing masks and not vaccinated (pictured Victorian Police attend a small protest in All Nations Park, Melbourne)
While there is a very low chance Covid can spread outside, transmission can occur when an infected person is in close proximity to others – especially without masks – for an extended period of time.
Panic has now gripped the state’s health system with fears there could be a flurry of new cases to follow after hundreds descended on the war memorial yesterday and about 2000 marched throughout the CBD on Tuesday.
‘Public health investigations are under way,’ the department said in a statement.
‘We are urging protestors to get tested should they experience Covid-like symptoms, no matter how mild.’
A man infected with Covid-19 attended Melbourne’s anti-vaxxer protests this week
A large mob also stormed the head office of the CFMEU on Monday with construction workers furious over mandatory coronavirus vaccine requirements on job sites.
The worrying development comes as Victoria recorded its highest number of daily cases since the the pandemic began with 766 new infections and four deaths.
Thursday also marked another grim milestone with Melbourne shattering the world record for the longest accumulative time under stay-at-home orders with a staggering 235 days.
The protester is now being treated in hospital (pictured, a nurse treats a Covid patient in a Sydney ICU)
The city has suffered through six lockdowns recording a death toll of over 900 people.
Victoria is desperately trying to vaccinate its population against the respiratory virus with the jab rate climbing to 45.2 per cent on Wednesday.
To boost inoculations further a decree was made by Premier Daniel Andrews that all teachers and early childhood workers must be double-dosed by November 29.
Construction workers furious over mandatory coronavirus vaccine requirements on job sites protested at Melbourne’s war memorial (pictured on Wednesday)
- Melbourne anti-vaxxer rally
Protesters march through the streets of Melbourne with one holding Australia’s maritime flag – a symbol often adopted by conspiracy theorists in the ‘sovereign citizens movement’
The issue of Covid vaccination mandates has caused division in some industries, particularly the building sector where workers have taken to the streets clashing with police.
Chanting ‘every day’ from the shrine, hundreds of mostly men without masks, some still wearing high-visibility clothing like in days earlier, had marched through the city to the war memorial.
Heavily armed police surrounded the shrine, with officers slowly moving in on the mob making arrests.
The stand-off lasted more than three hours as police tried to negotiate with protesters to peacefully exit via St Kilda Road.
By 4:30pm, some of the crowd dispersed but dozens remained behind and became rowdy before police fired rubber bullets.
A flare was thrown in retaliation as the riot squad cleared the crowd and took control of the site, which was left strewn with broken bottles and rubbish.
Victoria Police arrested 215 protesters throughout the day while two officers suffered head injuries, and one was taken to hospital with chest pains.
Tap handles, golf balls, batteries and bottles were thrown at them from the shrine.
Police fire rubber bullets at protestors in Melbourne
- Melbourne anti-vaxxer rally
Chanting ‘every day’ from the shrine, hundreds of mostly men without masks, some still wearing high-visibility clothing like in days earlier, had marched through the city to the war memorial
- Melbourne anti-vaxxer rally
Victoria Police arrested 215 protesters throughout the day while two officers suffered head injuries, and one was taken to hospital with chest pains
- Melbourne anti-vaxxer rally
Protesters marched around Melbourne’s CBD for hours on Tuesday. Pictured are demonstrators on Wednesday
Deputy Commissioner Ross Guenther said: ‘It was completely disrespectful that the crowd ended up at the shrine, which is such hallowed ground in this great city.’
RSL Victoria also slammed the protesters, saying they were ‘completely disrespecting the sanctity’ of the shrine.
‘Melbourne’s Shrine of Remembrance is a sacred place, of critical importance to the current and ex-service members of our community, for commemorating service and for the remembrance of those who have died performing their patriotic duty,’ a statement read.
‘Under no circumstances, ever, should the Shrine be a place of protest.
‘If any individuals or groups choose to express their political views, positions or ideological theories in the grounds of the Shrine at any time, they are completely disrespecting the sanctity of this time-honoured space, those men and women of the Australian Defence Force who have lost their lives, and all Victorian veterans.’
Of the state’s more than 6,600 active Covid cases, over 400 are directly linked to 186 construction sites – with health officials fearing the industry is not taking the deadly virus seriously.
Victoria’s construction industry shut down – explained
The shutdown was announced late on Monday following violent protests outside the CFMEU’s head office in Melbourne’s CBD over a vaccine mandate for the industry.
It applies to work sites across Melbourne, Ballarat, Geelong, Mitchell Shire and the Surf Coast.
Industrial Relations Minister Tim Pallas said the shutdown was required to cut down movement, reduce COVID-19 transmission and give the industry time to adapt to the new requirements.
‘We put the industry on notice just a week ago, we have seen appalling behaviour on-site and on our streets, and now we’re acting decisively and without hesitation,’ he said in a statement.
An amnesty was in place on Monday so that a limited number of workers can attend construction sites to shut them down safely.
The government said all sites will need to demonstrate compliance with the chief health officer’s directions prior to reopening, including the requirement for workers to show evidence of having had one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine before they return to work on October 5.
The Property Council of Australia said the shutdown would cost the economy $1.1 billion a week.
‘The majority of construction sites and construction workers are doing everything required of them to meet the highest standards of COVID safety and have done so since the pandemic started,’ executive director Danni Hunter said in a statement.
‘Closing the industry will prevent them going to work and getting paid and it will stall projects causing immensely costly delays, putting projects and Victorian jobs at risk.’
Opposition industry spokeswoman Bridget Vallence said the Andrews government must immediately reverse its ‘panicked decision’.
‘The Liberal Nationals condemn the violent protests, but the actions of a few should not be used as an excuse to shut down an entire industry, putting tens of thousands of people out of work,’ she said in a statement.
Union officials say Monday’s protesters were not all CFMEU members and blamed ‘neo-Nazi’s and right-wing extremists’ for hijacking the event.
The protest escalated when two union officials, including Victorian construction branch secretary John Sekta, came outside the Elizabeth Street office to speak to protesters just before midday.
Mr Setka was met with boos and insults from the crowd, while some protesters hurled bottles.
Violence escalated even further on Tuesday, with 2,000 protesters storming the West Gate Bridge, bringing traffic to a standstill and evening attacking cars
Organisers have vowed to host protests ‘every day’ until the mandatory vaccine mandate for tradies is dropped
Construction sites have been a place of high spread in the latest outbreak, forcing health officials to close tearooms last week.
The state’s roadmap out of lockdown was released on Sunday, detailing small changes to restrictions when 80 per cent of Victorians aged over 16 have received a single vaccine dose.
Melbourne’s lockdown will remain in place until 70 per cent of Victorians are double-vaccinated, which is forecast for October 26.