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Sydney to Get Extra Vaccines Amid Lockdown Protests

Sydney to Get Extra Vaccines Amid Lockdown Protests

Saturday, 24 July, 2021 - 09:30
Police block the path of protesters during an anti-lockdown rally in Sydney, July 24, 2021. Steven Saphore, AFP

Sydney will get 50,000 more doses of the Pfizer vaccine this week to battle its worsening COVID-19 outbreak, Canberra said on Saturday.

Australia reported 176 new locally acquired COVID cases on Saturday, a third consecutive daily record with nearly all cases in the state of New South Wales, centered in the country's largest city, Sydney.

Officials fear the outbreak could jeopardize the rest of the country.

Defying a statewide stay-at-home order, however, 3,500 mostly unmasked protesters clashed with police in downtown Sydney, decrying a month-long lockdown in what the state police minister said was the best case study of a superspreader event since the start of the pandemic.

The participants marched from Sydney’s Victoria Park to Town Hall, carrying signs calling for “freedom” and “the truth."

"You don't have to be an epidemiologist to work out that if this is a superspreader event, we can forget about lifting restrictions next week," New South Wales Police Minister David Elliott told reporters.

Police arrested 57 people with more under investigation, facing hefty fines and penalties.

There were protests in Melbourne and Adelaide, also under lockdown, and in Brisbane, where there are no restrictions.

Police arrested six people in Melbourne, including one for assaulting an emergency worker, and fined dozens of others for failing to comply with orders to stay within 5 km of home.

New South Wales Health Minister Brad Hazzard stressed the state's urgent need for extra vaccine supply, adding that with so many people flouting the stay-at-home orders it was the only way to stop transmission of the virus.

New South Wales reported 163 locally acquired cases of COVID-19 on Saturday, up from 136 the previous day, with 37 patients in intensive care.

Hazzard renewed a call for other states to give up some Pfizer vaccines so that younger people in Sydney's hotspots could be vaccinated, reminding neighboring states about the help New South Wales had provided during other crises.

By Friday, 15.4% of the nation’s population aged 16 and above have received both jabs for COVID-19.

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