Thousands of people took to the streets of Sydney and other Australian cities on Saturday to protest pandemic lockdown restrictions amid a further rise in COVID-19 cases, and police have carried out several arrests after crowds broke through barriers and dumped plastic bottles and potted plants. Unmasked participants marched from Sydney’s Victoria Park to City Hall in the CBD, carrying signs calling for “freedom” and “truth.”
There was a heavy police presence in Sydney, including mounted police and riot officers in response to what authorities described as unauthorized protest activity. Police arrested 57 people after items were thrown at officers.
The protest comes as the number of COVID-19 cases in New South Wales state hit another record high with 163 new infections in the past 24 hours.
Greater Sydney has been locked up for four weeks, with residents only able to leave their homes with a reasonable excuse.
“Business that is skyrocketing”
“We live in a democracy and normally I am certainly someone who supports the rights of people to demonstrate… to each other at a protest,” said State Health Minister Brad Hazzard.
In Melbourne, thousands of maskless protesters marched into the city center chanting “freedom”. Some of them lit flares as they gathered outside the Victoria State Parliament.
They were holding banners, including one that read, “This is not a virus, but total government control over the population.
A car protest rally was also planned in Adelaide, which is also under lockdown. Police have warned that they will make arrests for illegal activity.
WATCH | Rising COVID-19 cases in Australia lead to lockdowns and tightened travel restrictions:
As of Friday, 15.4% of the country’s population aged 16 and over had received two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.
“We took the leap, we solved the problem. We are achieving the targets we need to achieve, one million doses per week are now being distributed, ”Prime Minister Scott Morrison said. “We are on track to achieve what we want to be by the end of the year and potentially sooner than that. “
The government has said it will send thousands more doses of Pfizer-BioNTech to Sydney over the coming week, while adults in Australia’s largest city are also urged to “strongly consider” AstraZeneca-Oxford due to the scarcity of supplies from Pfizer.
What’s going on in Tokyo
An Iranian nurse who has treated COVID-19 patients at home and contracted the disease himself won a gold medal in the 10-meter male air pistol at the Tokyo Olympics on Saturday.
At 41, Javad Foroughi became his country’s oldest medalist, competing in his first Olympics. He trained for the event while working at a hospital in the Iranian city of Ilam.
“I’m very happy to have done my job on both sides,” Foroughi said through an interpreter. “As a nurse we battled COVID and it was very hard. As a shooter I have worked a lot over the past two years for this moment. “
He also set an Olympic record with 244.8 points, finishing 6.9 ahead of Serbian Damir Mikec. China’s Pang Wei, gold medalist in 2008, won bronze.
Foroughi contracted COVID-19 at the start of the pandemic and was unable to train for a month. The saves left him nowhere to shoot once he recovered, so he worked on training the body and mind.
He was eventually able to train and compete online with other shooters, honing his craft to be ready to resume competitions in person.
WATCH | Despite COVID-19 and logistical challenges, Tokyo 2020 will be the most inclusive Olympics:
What is happening in the world
As of Saturday morning, more than 193.1 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported worldwide, according to the Johns Hopkins University Case Tracker. The death toll worldwide stood at over 4.1 million.
In Asia, the Chinese mainland administered more than 1.5 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines on Friday, the National Health Commission said on Saturday.
A total of 1,524,897,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines were administered in the 31 provincial-level regions of the Chinese mainland and in the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps.
Beijing is promoting the vaccination of minors between the ages of 12 and 17, while a number of provinces, regions and municipalities have gradually started their adolescent vaccination programs.
The city of Shifang in southwest China’s Sichuan Province has started offering COVID-19 vaccines to adolescents aged 15 to 17.
In L’Europe , 23,947 new cases were reported in Russia on Saturday, along with an additional 799 deaths attributed to COVID-19.
Russia has been plagued by an increase in cases that authorities attribute to the more contagious Delta variant, although some officials have suggested in recent days that cases, at least in Moscow, have started to decline.