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Foreign minister criticises China and the WHO in major speech

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foreign minister criticises china and the who in major speech

Marise Payne tonight branded the World Health Organisation ‘not fit for purpose’ and slammed China for spreading fake news as she set out Australia’s global ambitions in the wake of the coronavirus crisis.

The Foreign Minister said the WHO was not ‘free from undue influence’ after it heaped praise on China’s handling of the pandemic which erupted in Wuhan in December.

In a landmark foreign policy speech in Canberra, Senator Payne also accused China of spreading disinformation to create ‘fear and division’ in the West.

World Health Organization Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus (left) and Chinese President Xi Jinping shake hands in Beijing on January 28 ahead of their meeting to discuss how to curb the spread of a new pneumonia-causing coronavirus

World Health Organization Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus (left) and Chinese President Xi Jinping shake hands in Beijing on January 28 ahead of their meeting to discuss how to curb the spread of a new pneumonia-causing coronavirus

World Health Organization Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus (left) and Chinese President Xi Jinping shake hands in Beijing on January 28 ahead of their meeting to discuss how to curb the spread of a new pneumonia-causing coronavirus

The Australian government has forged its own path toward stopping the virus, managing to slow the spread of the deadly disease, without following advice from the WHO. Pictured: Nurses at Sydney Airport

The Australian government has forged its own path toward stopping the virus, managing to slow the spread of the deadly disease, without following advice from the WHO. Pictured: Nurses at Sydney Airport

The Australian government has forged its own path toward stopping the virus, managing to slow the spread of the deadly disease, without following advice from the WHO. Pictured: Nurses at Sydney Airport 

Since last week Chinese state media has been advising citizens not to study in or visit Australia, claiming they would be putting themselves in danger because the country is racist. 

‘Australia has been very clear in rejecting as disinformation the Chinese Government’s warnings,’ Senator Payne said.

‘I can say emphatically that Australia will welcome students and visitors from all over the world, regardless of race, gender or nationality.  

‘The disinformation we have seen contributes to a climate of fear and division when what we need is cooperation and understanding.’

Senator Payne also called out propaganda posted on social media by authoritarian regimes including China, Russia and Turkey to make themselves ‘look good’ at dealing with the virus.

‘Let’s be clear: disinformation during a pandemic will cost lives,’ she said. 

‘It is troubling that some countries are using the pandemic to undermine liberal democracy and promote their own, more authoritarian models.’ 

Passengers go through the security and body temperatures check on a first day of ending more than a two-month lockdown at railway station in Wuhan, China

Passengers go through the security and body temperatures check on a first day of ending more than a two-month lockdown at railway station in Wuhan, China

Passengers go through the security and body temperatures check on a first day of ending more than a two-month lockdown at railway station in Wuhan, China

A tweet from the WHO on 24 January which shows it repeating Chinese insistence that the virus did not spread between humans

A tweet from the WHO on 24 January which shows it repeating Chinese insistence that the virus did not spread between humans

A tweet from the WHO on 24 January which shows it repeating Chinese insistence that the virus did not spread between humans

Cremona Hospital Intensive Care for the most serious patients infected with the COVID19 Coronavirus in Italy in March

Cremona Hospital Intensive Care for the most serious patients infected with the COVID19 Coronavirus in Italy in March

Cremona Hospital Intensive Care for the most serious patients infected with the COVID19 Coronavirus in Italy in March

Outlining a more ambitious role for Australia in the world, Senator Payne (pictured last year) said the country would be more active in pushing its values of freedom and democracy

Outlining a more ambitious role for Australia in the world, Senator Payne (pictured last year) said the country would be more active in pushing its values of freedom and democracy

Outlining a more ambitious role for Australia in the world, Senator Payne (pictured last year) said the country would be more active in pushing its values of freedom and democracy

The bulk of Senator Payne’s speech at the National Security College focused on how Australia will help improve global co-operation and, in particular, reform the WHO. 

The UN organisation has come under fire from the US, Australia and European nations after it stalled on declaring a pandemic, told countries to keep borders open and uncritically repeated information from the Chinese government, including that there was no evidence of human-to-human transmission. 

Australia was the first nation to call for an inquiry into the origins and spread of the virus – sparking huge trade tensions with China – and was backed by the European Union before the UN agreed in May. 

Marise Payne outlines three ways to improve global co-operation 

Senator Payne said the government will ‘target our efforts to preserve three fundamental parts of the multilateral system’:

· The rules that protect sovereignty, preserve peace and curb excessive use of power, and enable international trade and investment;

· the international standards related to health and pandemics, transport, telecommunications and other issues that underpin the global economy and which will be vital to a post-COVID-19 economic recovery;

· the norms that underpin universal human rights, gender equality and the rule of law. 

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Senator Payne said the international order was badly in need of reform ‘in several areas’. 

‘The pandemic has brought into stark relief the major role of international institutions in addressing and coordinating a global response to a global problem, across multiple lines of effort,’ she said.

‘What has been exposed is the magnitude of the consequences if we fail to ensure these institutions are fit-for-purpose, accountable to member states and free from undue influence. 

‘In the wake of this devastating health crisis, Australia wants to see a stronger WHO that is more independent and transparent.’  

US President Donald Trump has threatened to pull funding from the organisation after he called it ‘China-centric’ and said it failed to contain the virus. 

The Australian government has said it will not walk away but will instead try to change the organisation, which received $57million from Aussie taxpayers in 2018.

‘Frankly, there is no other institution that can marshal collective efforts to improve health security across the globe,’ Senator Payne said.

‘We have seen how global public health action – or inaction – can affect Australians at home and abroad. So there is a strong incentive for Australia to show leadership on making the WHO as effective as possible.’ 

Referencing criticism of WHO director Tedros Adhanom, who has been accused of pandering to China, she said: ‘We cannot let the vital and practical work that the WHO does on the ground be overshadowed by questions about the approach of its headquarters in Geneva.’  

Outlining a more ambitious role for Australia in the world, Senator Payne said the country would be more active in pushing its values of freedom and democracy.

‘Effective multilateralism, conducted through strong and transparent institutions, serves Australia’s interests, she said. 

‘Our challenge is to ensure the institutions, and our active engagement, delivers for Australia and for Australians. To do this, Australia must better target our role in the global system.’ 

Senator Payne said new global rules to govern cyber and artificial intelligence, critical minerals and outer space must fit Australia’s ‘enduring values and principles’. 

‘We want to deepen our cooperation with our likeminded and regional partners on shared goals, to shape better outcomes,’ she said.

Senator Payne also suggested the rising power of China was putting a ‘strain’ on the international order. 

People wearing protective clothing and masks arrive at Hankou Railway Station in Wuhan, to board one of the first trains leaving the city in China's central Hubei province early on April 8

People wearing protective clothing and masks arrive at Hankou Railway Station in Wuhan, to board one of the first trains leaving the city in China's central Hubei province early on April 8

People wearing protective clothing and masks arrive at Hankou Railway Station in Wuhan, to board one of the first trains leaving the city in China’s central Hubei province early on April 8

President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump welcome Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and his wife Jenny to an official dinner at the White House September 20, 2019

President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump welcome Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and his wife Jenny to an official dinner at the White House September 20, 2019

President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump welcome Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and his wife Jenny to an official dinner at the White House September 20, 2019

‘Multilateral institutions are experiencing unprecedented strain from a new era of strategic competition, shifts in global power, technological disruption and complex security, health and economic challenges,’ she said.

But she insisted Australia would not turn its back on global co-operation.

‘Australia will continue to work to ensure global institutions are fit-for-purpose, relevant and contemporary, accountable to member states, free from undue influence, and have an appropriately strong focus on the Indo-Pacific,’ she said. 

‘We will continue to support reform efforts in the United Nations and its agencies to improve transparency, accountability and effectiveness. 

‘This is foreign policy designed to use Australian agency and influence to shape a safer world and make us safer at home.’

Why is the WHO director-general ‘sympathetic’ to China? 

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26945028 8425499 image a 3 1592294877349

At the end of Janaury, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom enjoyed a trip to China to rub shoulders with President Xi Jinping.

When he returned, he hailed China for ‘transparency’ – even though it had covered up the extent of the outbreak by detaining doctors who sought to alert citizens.

Australian professor John Mackenzie, a member of the World Health Organization’s emergency committee, called China ‘reprehensible’ – but Dr Adhanom said China should be ‘congratulated’ for protecting ‘the people of the world’.

He then fawned over the communist leader, telling aides he was ‘very impressed and encouraged by the president’s detailed knowledge of the outbreak.’  

Since then, Tedros Adhanom has been called a ‘China apologist’ by various commentators.

Kristine Lee, China analyst at an influential US think-tank said: ‘There is a clear narrative coming out of the WHO that panders to Xi Jinping’s view about his country’s handling of coronavirus.’

But why? Perhaps it goes back to his time as a top Ethiopian politician, wrote journalist Ian Birrell.

He served in senior roles under Meles Zenawi, who ran a brutal dictatorship with close ties to Beijing, which admired the regime’s authoritarian model of development.

Intriguingly, Tedros was accused of covering up three outbreaks of cholera during his seven years as health minister, although the claims were dismissed as dirty tactics to try to derail his bid to become the WHO boss.

Shortly after starting his new job with the WHO in 2017, he appointed Robert Mugabe as a ‘goodwill ambassador’, only to back down after furious protests from human rights groups pointing out the despot had devastated Zimbabwe’s health service while wrecking his nation. 

Mugabe, as head of the African Union and a close ally of China, had helped him win the WHO post. Beijing also used its financial muscle to build support among developing nations, with Xi said to see the achievement as a sign of China’s growing strength. 

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Toddler Anna Seagren dies after being run over by 4WD in South Australia

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toddler anna seagren dies after being run over by 4wd in south australia

The heartbroken parents of a toddler who was run over by the family’s 4WD have paid tribute to their ‘perfect girl’.

Anna Seagren was tragically killed by the 4WD on her family’s property on Victor Harbor Road in Mount Jagged, South Australia, about 3.45pm on Friday. 

Paramedics tried desperately to save the ‘cheeky’ 17-month-old, but little Anna was unable to be saved.

Anna Seagren was tragically killed by the 4WD on her family's property on Victor Harbor Road in Mount Jagged, South Australia, about 3.45pm on Friday

Anna Seagren was tragically killed by the 4WD on her family's property on Victor Harbor Road in Mount Jagged, South Australia, about 3.45pm on Friday

Anna Seagren was tragically killed by the 4WD on her family’s property on Victor Harbor Road in Mount Jagged, South Australia, about 3.45pm on Friday 

Paramedics tried desperately to save the 'cheeky' 17-month-old, but little Anna was unable to be saved

Paramedics tried desperately to save the 'cheeky' 17-month-old, but little Anna was unable to be saved

Paramedics tried desperately to save the ‘cheeky’ 17-month-old, but little Anna was unable to be saved

Her devastated parents paid tribute to their youngest daughter, who has an older sister Grace, 5, and brother Jack, 3.

‘She was really cheeky, really cuddly and affectionate. She was just a perfect, happy, boisterous, gorgeous girl,’ Anna’s mother Jessi Seagren told Adelaide Now

Shattered at their loss, the Seagrens remembered the happy tot for her cheerfulness and playful nature. 

‘She loved going on the motorbikes. ‘She loved the chickens. She would chase them around,’ Mrs Seagren said.

‘(And) she loved her swimming lessons. She was learning to kick her legs.’ 

Anna was ‘best mates’ with her brother Jack and copied everything he did.

They said their baby girl will be ‘really missed’.  

'She was really cheeky, really cuddly and affectionate. She was just a perfect, happy, boisterous, gorgeous girl,' Anna's mother Jessi Seagren said

'She was really cheeky, really cuddly and affectionate. She was just a perfect, happy, boisterous, gorgeous girl,' Anna's mother Jessi Seagren said

‘She was really cheeky, really cuddly and affectionate. She was just a perfect, happy, boisterous, gorgeous girl,’ Anna’s mother Jessi Seagren said

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Hodgkin’s lymphoma: Business student Maddie King diagnosed with stage four blood cancer at 19

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hodgkins lymphoma business student maddie king diagnosed with stage four blood cancer at 19

There was no reason for Maddie King to suspect that a mass of tumours had silently spread across one third of her lungs.

The super-fit 19-year-old who rarely drank, exercised religiously and never ate dairy or refined sugars was more concerned with acing her business degree at Sydney University.

So when she felt a ‘large, rubbery lump’ on the back of her neck on June 30, 2019, she could never have imagined that four months later she would be diagnosed with stage four Hodgkin’s lymphoma – the most advanced form of blood cancer.

The now 20-year-old, who swam at state level for New South Wales and trained to become a professional ballerina, is anxiously awaiting the results of gruelling chemotherapy that has robbed her of her fertility.

‘I just wish I had caught it earlier,’ she told Daily Mail Australia.

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Glamorous business student Maddie King rarely drank, never ate refined sugars and exercised religiously

Glamorous business student Maddie King rarely drank, never ate refined sugars and exercised religiously

Until doctors diagnosed her with stage four Hodgkin's lymphoma in October 2019

Until doctors diagnosed her with stage four Hodgkin's lymphoma in October 2019

Glamorous business student Maddie King rarely drank, never ate refined sugars and exercised religiously until doctors diagnosed her with stage four Hodgkin’s lymphoma in October 2019

To everyone who saw her, the 19-year-old looked the picture of health - so there was no reason to suspect that a mass of tumours had already covered a third of her lungs

To everyone who saw her, the 19-year-old looked the picture of health - so there was no reason to suspect that a mass of tumours had already covered a third of her lungs

To everyone who saw her, the 19-year-old looked the picture of health – so there was no reason to suspect that a mass of tumours had already covered a third of her lungs

After discovering the lump on her neck, Maddie saw a doctor who ‘did all the right things straight away’, ordering x-rays, blood tests and needle biopsies to determine the cause.

When the biopsy showed no signs of cancer, she was given a course of antibiotics for ‘walking pneumonia’ and told to monitor for changes.

Needle biopsies remove just a tiny fragment of cells and are known to return false negatives due to the minuscule size of the sample.

With the lump showing no signs of shrinking, Maddie had an entire lymph node removed for further testing, which immediately revealed the true cause of the growth on October 24, 2019.

It was only with hindsight that she recalled having night sweats and shortness of breath during workouts – both telltale signs of Hodgkin’s lymphoma. 

A raised lump on the left side of Maddie King's neck (pictured) was the only physical clue that the most advanced form of lymphoma was ravaging her body

A raised lump on the left side of Maddie King's neck (pictured) was the only physical clue that the most advanced form of lymphoma was ravaging her body

Gruelling chemotherapy has stolen her fertility and femininity, and Maddie says she wishes she had noticed symptoms sooner

Gruelling chemotherapy has stolen her fertility and femininity, and Maddie says she wishes she had noticed symptoms sooner

A raised lump on the left side of Maddie King’s neck (pictured) was the only physical clue that the most advanced form of lymphoma was ravaging her body

Maddie remembers feeling ‘completely numb’ until her shattered mother broke down in tears, a sight she called ‘the hardest part’ of her diagnosis.

‘I never let her come to any of my chemo sessions because I didn’t want her to see me sick like that,’ she said.

‘It meant I could cry and be a mess without having to worry about being strong for her.’ 

Doctors prescribed a course of gruelling BEACOPP chemotherapy, a potent cocktail of drugs that offers the best chance of destroying advanced lymphoma.

‘It was extremely tough both physically and mentally. I became really sick, tired and weak,’ Maddie said, a bitter pill to swallow for the fitness fanatic who has long used exercise as an escape from anxiety and stress.

A lifelong fitness fanatic, Maddie swam at state level for New South Wales and even trained to become a professional ballerina

A lifelong fitness fanatic, Maddie swam at state level for New South Wales and even trained to become a professional ballerina

A lifelong fitness fanatic, Maddie swam at state level for New South Wales and even trained to become a professional ballerina

Early symptoms of Hodgkin’s lymphoma

Excessive tiredness, fever, night sweats, unexplained weight loss, itchy rashes and painless swelling of lymph nodes in the neck, armpits or groin.

Source: Cancer Council Australia

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Maddie is one of roughly 600 Australians diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma every year.

It is a rare disease that accounts for just 0.5 percent of all cancers diagnosed in Australia, and one most likely to occur in people aged between 15 and 25 or those over 65 years old.

But Maddie’s story stands as sobering testament that cancer can develop at any time, even in young people at the peak of their physical health.

Hodgkin’s is notoriously difficult to diagnose because symptoms are vague and easily confused with those of less sinister illnesses like bacterial or viral infections – including pneumonia, just as Maddie’s were.

Unlike cervical, breast and colon cancer, there are no screening programmes for Hodgkin’s and it cannot be diagnosed with a generic blood test, leading health organisations to label it a ‘silent killer’.

Warning signs include night sweats and painless lumps in the armpits, groin or neck – both of which Maddie experienced – as well as itchiness, fatigue, inflamed rashes and unexplained weight loss.

Maddie's story stands as sobering testament that cancer can develop at any time, even in young people at the peak of their physical health

Maddie's story stands as sobering testament that cancer can develop at any time, even in young people at the peak of their physical health

Maddie’s story stands as sobering testament that cancer can develop at any time, even in young people at the peak of their physical health

Maddie describes seeing her shattered mother (left) break down in tears as 'the hardest part' of her diagnosis

Maddie describes seeing her shattered mother (left) break down in tears as 'the hardest part' of her diagnosis

Maddie describes seeing her shattered mother (left) break down in tears as ‘the hardest part’ of her diagnosis

In its initial stages, most forms of lymphoma are highly treatable and associated with long-term survival, which means early intervention can be the difference between life and death.

It’s even curable at stage four when tumours have spread to organs outside the lymphatic system, as Maddie’s have.

But she has been warned there is a high risk – 15 to 20 percent – of her cancer recurring, even if she goes into remission after treatment.

While those figures are low compared to other cancers, Maddie says ‘any number higher than zero’ will keep her awake at night, worrying about the worst case scenario. 

And it’s not only imagined fears weighing on her mind – there’s plenty of real ones, too.

Losing her strength and mobility during treatment was a bitter pill to swallow for the fitness fanatic who has long seen exercise as her escape from stress and anxiety

Losing her strength and mobility during treatment was a bitter pill to swallow for the fitness fanatic who has long seen exercise as her escape from stress and anxiety

Hodgkin's lymphoma is known as a 'silent killer' because there are no screening programmes to detect it

Hodgkin's lymphoma is known as a 'silent killer' because there are no screening programmes to detect it

Losing her strength and mobility during treatment was a bitter pill to swallow for the fitness fanatic who has long seen exercise as her escape from stress and anxiety

Chemotherapy has wrought irreversible damage on Maddie’s fertility, leaving her unlikely to conceive without IVF – news she says crushed her more than her diagnosis.

‘I actually didn’t cry until they said I might not be able to have kids naturally,’ she said. 

‘It broke my heart, I always knew I wanted kids. Treatment has taken my fertility and so much of my femininity, I just wish I caught it earlier so that this wasn’t the case.’

For now, Maddie is in what doctors call a ‘grey area’. 

Hodgkin’s lymphoma explained

Hodgkin lymphoma is a rare form of cancer that starts in a type of white blood cells called lymphocytes.

The disease begins in a lymph node, usually in the neck, then spreads through the lymphatic system from one group of lymph nodes to another.

Hodgkin lymphoma represents just 0.5 percent of all cancers diagnosed in Australia. About 11 percent of all lymphomas are types of Hodgkin lymphoma, while the remainder are non-Hodgkin.

Non-Hodgkin lymphoma may arise in lymph nodes anywhere in the body, whereas Hodgkin lymphoma typically begins in the upper body, such as the neck, chest or armpits.

Hodgkin lymphoma is often diagnosed at an early stage and is therefore considered one of the most treatable cancers.

Approximately 600 people in Australia are diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma every year, most commonly younger people aged 15 – 29 and older people over the age of 65. It is more common in men than women. 

The causes of Hodgkin lymphoma remain largely unclear, but risk factors include family history – with those who have a parent or sibling who has had Hodgkin’s slightly likelier to develop the disease – certain viruses, including glandular fever and HIV, and a generally weakened immune system which can occur because of autoimmune conditions or lengthy periods taking immunosuppressant drugs. 

Source: Lymphoma Australia

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The tumour count in her latest scans returned higher results than expected, leaving her to wait for a follow-up scan in November to assess developments.

While Maddie has largely recovered from the effects of chemo by training her body with yoga, boxing and Pilates, she still feels bitter that cancer has stripped her of the innocence every young woman should enjoy in their early 20s.

‘At times the darkness of it all weighs really heavy on my mind,’ she said.

Being confronted with her own mortality while still in her teens has also taken a toll on her mental health.

‘It’s forced me to grow up so quickly and robbed me of those carefree years in your 20s that I’m watching all of my friends enjoy,’ she said.

‘I’ve outgrown a lot of them and find it difficult to relate to ‘normal’ problems they talk about now, which can feel really isolating.’ 

Since completing chemotherapy, Maddie has regained her strength by training at yoga, boxing and Pilates classes

Since completing chemotherapy, Maddie has regained her strength by training at yoga, boxing and Pilates classes

Since completing chemotherapy, Maddie has regained her strength by training at yoga, boxing and Pilates classes

More driven than ever, Maddie is now juggling her business studies with training to become a Pilates instructor at KX Studios in Sydney

More driven than ever, Maddie is now juggling her business studies with training to become a Pilates instructor at KX Studios in Sydney

More driven than ever, Maddie is now juggling her business studies with training to become a Pilates instructor at KX Studios in Sydney

More driven than ever, Maddie is now juggling her business studies with training to become a Pilates instructor at KX Studios in Sydney. 

Eager to help others avoid what she has been through, she urged young people to educate themselves about early cancer symptoms and to ‘trust your gut’ no matter how embarrassing or insignificant changes in the body may seem.

‘There just isn’t enough awareness among young people about cancer, and alarm bells don’t go off for doctors when they present with symptoms because of their age,’ Maddie said.

‘If you suspect something is off, push the professionals until you get a proper answer because no one is going to care about your health as much as you do.’

For more information on Hodgkin’s lymphoma and other types of blood cancer, please visit  Lymphoma Australia or the Australian Cancer Council. 

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Anti-lockdown protesters swarm Melbourne park before being chased off by police on horseback

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anti lockdown protesters swarm melbourne park before being chased off by police on horseback

Anti-lockdown protesters swarming a suburban park in Melbourne have been chased off by police on horseback.

Up to 100 people gathering at Elsternwick Park in Brighton dispersed to Elwood when faced with a long line of officers at the site, 11km from Melbourne’s CBD.

Protests were announced by rally organisers about 10.30am on Saturday – half an hour before kicking off at the State Library, and a second closely following at 12pm. 

Law enforcement teams circling Elsternwick Park included officers from Public Order Response, the Mounted Unit and Highway Patrol.

A helicopter also monitored the situation from above.

More than 100 people have gathered at Elsternwick Park (pictured) in Brighton, 11 km south-east of Melbourne's central business district

More than 100 people have gathered at Elsternwick Park (pictured) in Brighton, 11 km south-east of Melbourne's central business district

More than 100 people have gathered at Elsternwick Park (pictured) in Brighton, 11 km south-east of Melbourne’s central business district

The first protest kicked off at the State Library from 11am, with a second shortly after at 12pm. Pictured: A woman being arrested

The first protest kicked off at the State Library from 11am, with a second shortly after at 12pm. Pictured: A woman being arrested

The first protest kicked off at the State Library from 11am, with a second shortly after at 12pm. Pictured: A woman being arrested

Protesters marching along Elwood beach about 1pm were dispersed a third time, and several arrests have been made by officers.

Shouting about Premier Daniel Andrews and coronavirus restrictions was heard throughout the disjointed protests.

The protests were described as ‘chaotic’, with one photographer saying there was ‘a lot of running and not much protesting.’ 

Some protesters continued to scatter through backstreets, even jumping fences into private property.

One arrested by police was filmed by Nine News telling officers: ‘Wake up, I know you already know this is wrong.’ 

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33364798 8749879 image a 37 1600488763573

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Protesters on Saturday dispersed near the foreshore about 1pm, with police arresting many (pictured)

Protesters on Saturday dispersed near the foreshore about 1pm, with police arresting many (pictured)

Protesters on Saturday dispersed near the foreshore about 1pm, with police arresting many (pictured)

In video captured of the event, protesters can be heard yelling ‘disgraceful’, ‘I’ve done nothing wrong’, ‘no violence’ and ‘peaceful’ as officers stand nearby.

A man can be seen being arrested as he questions: ‘Officers, why are you doing this. I’ve never done anything wrong in my life. Please, this is enough. It’s only  going to get worse. Who is going to fight for you.’ 

Premier Daniel Andrews said the protest was selfish and irresponsible.

He added it was an unlawful act and told protesters: ‘Go home and follow the rules. There is no need to protest about anything. It is not safe’.  

‘It just doesn’t make any sense. You are potentially putting the strategy at risk. No-one should be doing anything to contribute to the spread of this virus, 21 cases today, seriously. This is working. We’re getting there,’ he said, The Age reported. 

Saturday’s events follow concern anti-lockdown protesters in Melbourne are threatening to cause another COVID-19 outbreak as the city teeters on the brink of a third explosion and cases surge in the southeast. 

Police (pictured) are circling the area, including officers from Public Order Response, the Mounted Unit and Highway Patrol

Police (pictured) are circling the area, including officers from Public Order Response, the Mounted Unit and Highway Patrol

Police (pictured) are circling the area, including officers from Public Order Response, the Mounted Unit and Highway Patrol

Public health authorities are racing to stop infections growing in the Casey and Dandenong council areas on the Melbourne’s southeast rim, which now has 90 active cases.

Five households in Clyde, Cranbourne North, Hallam and Narre Warren South are linked to 34 active cases.

Daniel Andrews urged covidiots on Saturday not to gather at planned protests across the city or ‘do anything to undermine’ its progress with tackling COVID-19.

It comes as Victoria recorded 21 new cases of COVID-19, the lowest daily increase since June, and a further seven deaths.  

Metropolitan Melbourne’s 14-day average has plummeted and now sits at 39.3 as the state moves to a COVID normal. In regional Victoria, the 14-day average is at just 1.9. 

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33359848 8749879 image a 1 1600487826237

Daniel Andrews (pictured) urged covidiots on Saturday not to gather at planned protests across the city or ‘do anything to undermine’ its progress with tackling COVID-19

A heavy Police presence is seen in Dandenong following an anti-lockdown protest on August 28

A heavy Police presence is seen in Dandenong following an anti-lockdown protest on August 28

A heavy Police presence is seen in Dandenong following an anti-lockdown protest on August 28

This is the ninth day in a row Victoria has recorded a daily infections increase below 50. 

Metropolitan Melbourne is under strict Stage Four lockdown – limiting Melburnians travelling more than 5km from their homes and enforcing a 9pm to 5am curfew. 

The premier did not comment on where Saturday demonstrations would be, with protesters taking caution when sharing information online.  

Multiple rallies have taken place in Melbourne the past few weekends.  

Victoria Police have responded with a heavy presence – handing out dozens of fines and making arrests. 

‘Let’s not lose sight of the fact that this week we have seen, day after day, not the 725 cases we had five and a half weeks ago – we have made very significant progress,’ Mr Andrews said.

‘We’ve got regional Victoria opening up. People should be positive and optimistic this strategy is working, and therefore, let’s not any of us do anything to undermine that.’  

The premier on Saturday did not comment on where Saturday demonstrations would be, with protesters taking caution when sharing information online. Pictured: Protesters rallying against lockdown regulations on Monday on September 13

The premier on Saturday did not comment on where Saturday demonstrations would be, with protesters taking caution when sharing information online. Pictured: Protesters rallying against lockdown regulations on Monday on September 13

The premier on Saturday did not comment on where Saturday demonstrations would be, with protesters taking caution when sharing information online. Pictured: Protesters rallying against lockdown regulations on Monday on September 13

Mr Andrews’ comments also followed trying to dissuade protesters on Friday by saying their intended actions would be selfish and irresponsible. 

His comments also followed information of a new cluster emerging in the southeast of Melbourne.  

A surge of cases in the Casey and Dandenong area has been linked back to five households in the Afghan community.

There are currently 101 active coronavirus cases in the Casey and Dandenong area with 34 infections linked to five households

There are currently 101 active coronavirus cases in the Casey and Dandenong area with 34 infections linked to five households

There are currently 101 active coronavirus cases in the Casey and Dandenong area with 34 infections linked to five households

Metropolitan Melbourne is under strict Stage Four lockdown - limiting Melburnians travelling more than 5km from their homes and enforcing a 9pm to 5am curfew. Pictured: A person walking through Melbourne's empty city

Metropolitan Melbourne is under strict Stage Four lockdown - limiting Melburnians travelling more than 5km from their homes and enforcing a 9pm to 5am curfew. Pictured: A person walking through Melbourne's empty city

Metropolitan Melbourne is under strict Stage Four lockdown – limiting Melburnians travelling more than 5km from their homes and enforcing a 9pm to 5am curfew. Pictured: A person walking through Melbourne’s empty city

As residents in the city are still under strict Stage Four lockdown, it is thought the infected group may have breached the stay-at-home orders. 

Health authorities are scrambling to track and trace the new surge in cases, and the Victorian government has begun a recruitment drive which sees retired officers re-enlisted to bolster the state’s frontline virus efforts. 

‘Members of those households visiting other households,’ Department of Health and Human Services COVID-19 testing commander Jeroen Weimar said.

‘It is that limited amount of contact, relatively infrequent contact between these five households that has now meant that we have 34 people in five houses experiencing or living with a very real threat of the coronavirus.’

The Victorian government has even began a new recruitment drive that will see retired officers re-enlisted to bolster the state's frontline virus efforts

The Victorian government has even began a new recruitment drive that will see retired officers re-enlisted to bolster the state's frontline virus efforts

The Victorian government has even began a new recruitment drive that will see retired officers re-enlisted to bolster the state’s frontline virus efforts

Police conducting checks on motorists at checkpoints - alongside the Australian Defence Force - to ensure Victorians are following state rules

Police conducting checks on motorists at checkpoints - alongside the Australian Defence Force - to ensure Victorians are following state rules

Police conducting checks on motorists at checkpoints – alongside the Australian Defence Force – to ensure Victorians are following state rules

The cluster – impacting five households in Hallam, Clyde, Narre Warren South and Cranbourne North – first emerged on September 4. 

Cases in the southeast have now spread to Dandenong Police Station and a number of industrial work sites. 

Premier Daniel Andrews on Friday said the actions of the family’s involved in the cluster was ‘disappointing’. 

The cluster which has impacted the five households in Hallam, Clyde, Narre Warren South and Cranbourne North, first emerged on September 4

The cluster which has impacted the five households in Hallam, Clyde, Narre Warren South and Cranbourne North, first emerged on September 4

The cluster which has impacted the five households in Hallam, Clyde, Narre Warren South and Cranbourne North, first emerged on September 4

‘Five kilometres is one thing and visiting others is the real issue here,’ he said. 

‘The rules are in place for a reason and anyone who undermines this, undermines the entire strategy and it means the rules will be on for longer.’ 

The Victorian leader, however, ruled out fines for the group, telling reporters it may discourage others from being completely honest with contact tracers. 

‘I know many Victorians, when you see examples of people not following the rules, that’s disappointing, it makes you angry,’ Mr Andrews said.

‘You need to look at the bigger picture here.

‘We don’t want a situation where people don’t have a sense of confidence and indeed, you know, the sense they’re obliged to tell us the full story as quickly as possible. That’s what we need.’ 

The success of Melbourne's ongoing lockdown could be at risk with a new cluster in the southeast of the city. Pictured: A coronavirus testing centre in Cranbourne on September 17

The success of Melbourne's ongoing lockdown could be at risk with a new cluster in the southeast of the city. Pictured: A coronavirus testing centre in Cranbourne on September 17

The success of Melbourne’s ongoing lockdown could be at risk with a new cluster in the southeast of the city. Pictured: A coronavirus testing centre in Cranbourne on September 17

The Casey and Dandenong cluster is testing the capacity of COVID-detectives. Pictured: Heath workers are seen at a coronavirus testing centre in Cranbourne on September 17

The Casey and Dandenong cluster is testing the capacity of COVID-detectives. Pictured: Heath workers are seen at a coronavirus testing centre in Cranbourne on September 17

The Casey and Dandenong cluster is testing the capacity of COVID-detectives. Pictured: Heath workers are seen at a coronavirus testing centre in Cranbourne on September 17

A health worker is pictured approaching a vehicle at a COVID-19 testing centre in Cranbourne on September 17

A health worker is pictured approaching a vehicle at a COVID-19 testing centre in Cranbourne on September 17

A health worker is pictured approaching a vehicle at a COVID-19 testing centre in Cranbourne on September 17

Despite the new cluster, Victoria’s overall case numbers are continuing to decline. 

With contact tracers ‘painstakingly’ working around the clock to slow the spread of the virus and bringing the city out of lockdown, the Victorian government is set to introduce a controversial new policy seeing retired cops re-enlisted in the force.

The Department of Justice and Community Safety and the Department of Health and Human Services is behind the push which will see former cops given paid training before being assigned specific COVID-19 roles.

These roles include industry enforcement, testing support, door-knocking and the airport patrol. 

A man with a dog is seen being questioned by two police officers in the Dandenong area

A man with a dog is seen being questioned by two police officers in the Dandenong area

A man with a dog is seen being questioned by two police officers in the Dandenong area

However, not everybody is in favour of the move to bring back veteran police.     

‘Police veterans have a real contribution to make to the ongoing safety of the community but their use to issue infringements, detain people and conduct checks on private property is entirely inappropriate,’ Opposition Police and Community Safety spokesman David Southwick told the Herald Sun.   

Ivan Ray, who served in the Victorian Police Force for more than three decades, said it was a recipe for disaster for the veterans. 

‘It’s effectively a health department police force, and we know the Health Department is no good at enforcement, we saw that in the hotel quarantine operation,’ Mr Ray said.

‘Veterans can play a part and they can support policing, but it has to be by the police department.’

Health authorities are urging anyone in the southeast of Melbourne to diligently monitor their health and immediately get tested if feeling unwell. 

Health authorities are urging anyone in the southeast of Melbourne to diligently monitor their health and immediately get tested if feeling unwell

Health authorities are urging anyone in the southeast of Melbourne to diligently monitor their health and immediately get tested if feeling unwell

Health authorities are urging anyone in the southeast of Melbourne to diligently monitor their health and immediately get tested if feeling unwell

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