Security heightened in Melbourne amid anti-lockdown protests

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Police in Melbourne have scattered to control the crowd on the third day of anti-lockdown protests, as COVID-19 cases in Australia’s Victoria state soared on Wednesday, Sept. 22.

Divided into separate groups, protesters have started to flock to the center of the city.

While police chief commissioner Shane Patton did not specify how to control the crowd, he promised that violent protests will be prevented.

“I’m not going to talk about the tactics we’ll deploy today,” he told a press conference. “I want them to be completely unaware of what we’re going to do and what capacity they may face.”

Crowds of protesters were seen through television footage, as they took the middle of the streets while police were at times on the chase.

“There (have) been a couple of arrests so far,” according to Deputy Commissioner Rick Nugent in an interview with radio station 3AW.

On Tuesday, Melbourne was swarmed by over 2, 000 protesters who left damaged properties and blocked roads. They also left three injured police officers following the two-week closure of construction sites.

Over 60 were placed under the custody of the authorities.

The largest cities in Australia – Sydney and Melbourne – along with the capital Canberra were placed under lockdown due to the threat of the Delta variant. It was the sixth lockdown for Melbourne, which makes it the top Australian city to declare lockdown since the virus outbreak.

In New South Wales, 54 percent of people aged 16 and older have already received their vaccines. In Victoria, it was at 45 percent.

On Wednesday, 628 new local cases were logged in Victoria. This was considered as the largest single-day increase, surpassing the previously recorded 603, Channel News Asia reported.

A total of 90, 300 infections, with 1, 186 deaths, were reported in Australia. Eight more deaths were added recently.