A man who took part in the Black Lives Matter protest has tested positive for Coronavirus after attending a rally attended by 10,000 people in Melbourne, sparking fears of second wave of the virus in Australia.
The man in his 30s reportedly marched with thousands through the city on Saturday and developed symptoms 24 hours later despite wearing a mask.
Health officials fear he may have passed the virus to many others.
Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton said the case could be the start of a mass outbreak. ‘This realises our worst fears,’ he told Sydney radio 2GB. ‘Now we could slip back into a second wave like other countries have.’
Victoria’s Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton said it was unlikely the man contracted the virus at the protest because it was too soon for him to start showing symptoms.
‘This case is unlikely to have been acquired at the protest but we were all concerned about the possibility of transmission occurring at that protest,’ he said.
‘It’s obviously helpful that the individual wore a mask but masks are not 100 percent protection.’
Dr. Sutton, who warned people not to attend Saturday’s rally, also urged people not to gather in groups larger than 20.
‘We don’t want people gathering in groups larger than 20 in Victoria because of the risk to others. It is my strong recommendation not to go and it is the law,’ he said.
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg also condemned the protesters, saying: ‘People shouldn’t have gathered in those numbers for those rallies. In doing so, they put the broader community’s health at risk.
‘That was the obvious message from the medical experts about those rallies. And it was very unfortunate that they proceeded in the way that that did.’
Speaking this morning, Prime Minister Scott Morrison slammed the protesters and said he wants anyone attending future rallies to be charged with breaking public health orders.
‘I think they should. I mean, I really do think they should, because they’ll be kind of a double standard here,‘ he told Melbourne radio 3AW.
‘I think the issues of last weekend were very difficult, but I think people carrying it on now, it’s not about that.
‘It’s about people pushing a whole bunch of other barrows now, and it puts others lives and livelihoods at risk.’
Mr. Morrison added: ‘I saw some people say, when they attended this rally, ‘oh I knew the risk I was taking by attending’.
‘They were talking about themselves, they weren’t talking about the Australians who weren’t there, you know, millions of quiet Australians who have done the right thing.’
‘By all means, raise your issue. But by doing this, they have put the whole track to recovery at risk,’ he told Sydney radio 2GB.
As state leaders face growing calls to lift more restrictions, Mr Morrison said: ‘The rally last weekend is the only legitimate blocker.’
Deputy chief medical officer Professor Michael Kidd said it was too early to tell if the protests will cause a spike.
‘The incubation period for COVID-19 is five to seven days, up to 14 days. So we will only start seeing new cases occurring if that transmission had occurred on the weekend over the days ahead,’ he told ABC News this morning.
‘We’re continuing to be very cautious and obviously we need to see what happens over the next few days.’