A crowd of protesters in front of Flinders St Station
Protesters during a Black Lives Matter rally in Melbourne (Image: AAP/James Ross)

It’s now clear the Black Lives Matter protests didn’t cause a second wave of COVID-19, but there’s still a bit of community transmission around in Victoria. The horrific numbers out of the United States put that blip into perspective, though. Plus more of the latest coronavirus news.

Black Lives Matter did not cause an outbreak

Let’s just say it one more time for the people at the back: more than 14 days later, there has been no recorded community transmission of COVID-19 from the Black Lives Matter rally.

While four people in Victoria who attended rallies later tested positive, there’s no evidence they infected anyone while protesting. There have been no cases with any connection to the numerous other rallies held in other states.

This is in spite of stern warnings from politicians, the media and some public health officials about the risks of a rally potentially causing a second wave. While politicians and reporters have tried their hardest to pin the blame for Victoria’s recent clusters of new cases, the evidence just doesn’t stand up.

What to do about Victoria then?

Victoria’s spike in new COVID-19 cases continues, with 17 new infections recorded in the last 24 hours.

So far, the origin of 11 of those cases is, worryingly, still under investigation, and Premier Daniel Andrews says there is “significant community transmission” involved.

Victoria’s plan to curb its rise in infections could be through tough enforcement of physical distancing rules, an increased police presence, and an army of doorknockers making sure people do the right thing.

Health Minister Greg Hunt this morning flagged the possibility of localised lockdowns in the six Local Government Areas worst affected. In NSW, Premier Gladys Berejiklian responded by urging residents not to travel to Melbourne, although the border still remains open. 

America is tired of losing

The United States’ catastrophic failure to control the COVID-19 pandemic continues.

There are now more than 120,000 deaths in America, and 20% of all new infections worldwide are in the US. Talk about a “second wave” is misplaced, because for much of America, the first wave is far from over.

Half of US states are experiencing a growth in cases. And now, the pandemic is ripping through red states.

Texas hit its 11th straight daily record for patients in hospitals, but Governor Greg Abbott wants to keep the state open for business.

Florida passed 100,000 cases on the weekend. In Arizona, one in five tests conducted is positive. 

The world’s smallest Hajj

Saudi Arabia has announced the Hajj will be strictly limited this year.

The annual pilgrimage to Mecca, which traditionally draws over two million people, mostly from overseas, will be limited to Saudis and foreign nationals living in the Kingdom.

A limited Hajj has seemed inevitable for some time — Mecca tends to be bursting at the seams during the pilgrimage, making physical distancing impossible.

Saudi Arabia suspended the Umrah pilgrimage to Mecca in February, and a number of Muslim countries, including Indonesia and Malaysia, had already withdrawn from the Hajj. The loss of overseas pilgrims could be a major financial blow to Saudi Arabia.

Peter Fray

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