Victoria’s health leaders have blasted the behaviour of anti-vaxxer protesters this week after a man who attended the rally is now hospitalised with Covid-19.
The minister was asked what was known about the infected protester during the state’s daily press conference on Friday, where 733 new infections were recorded.
‘This one person … will be treated with the same level of high care and commitment to recovery that any Victorians who enters our public health system is entitled to,’ he said.
‘It’s real and it can put you in hospital, it can affect your family, it can affect your community, it can affect you. The best thing you can do is not protest against it, not deny it’s real.’
When questioned by reporters on whether the protester was denying he had contracted the virus Mr Foley hit back claiming ‘the science doesn’t lie’.
‘People can subject themselves to all sorts of delusions. If you have Covid, it’s a very serious issue. And this person is so unwell they had to be hospitalised,’ he said.
Mr Foley confirmed health officials were concerned other protesters would not come forward for Covid-19 testing despite being exposed to the positive attendee.
Victoria’s Health Minister Martin Foley (pictured) has unleashed on a Melbourne protestor hospitalised with Covid-19
He also flagged concerns the rallies could lead to the state’s next super-spreader event with not only protesters at risk, but also Victoria Police officers.
The chief health officer did not hold back his own scathing remarks slamming the behaviour of protesters this week describing them as ‘absolutely wacky’.
‘This is not just about being anti-mandated vaccination. They’re anti-everything,’ Professor Brett Sutton said.
‘They think that everything will be solved by taking a horse deworming tablet, Ivermectin, that gives you the runs, and puts some people in hospital.’
‘They’re literally in a fantasy world,’ he added.
The Department of Health confirmed the demonstrator was among those at Victoria’s Shrine of Remembrance where dramatic scenes played out on Wednesday.
While there is a very low chance Covid can spread outside, transmission can occur when an infected person is in close proximity to others – especially without masks – for an extended period of time.
Panic has now gripped the state’s health system with fears there could be a flurry of new cases to follow after hundreds descended on the war memorial on Wednesday and about 2000 marched throughout the CBD on Tuesday.
‘Public health investigations are under way,’ the department said in a statement.
‘We are urging protestors to get tested should they experience Covid-like symptoms, no matter how mild.’
A man infected with Covid-19 attended Melbourne ‘s wild protests this week
The protester is now being treated in hospital (pictured, a nurse treats a Covid patient in a Sydney ICU)
A large mob also stormed the head office of the CFMEU on Monday with construction workers furious over mandatory coronavirus vaccine requirements on job sites.
The worrying development comes as Victoria recorded its highest number of daily cases since the the pandemic began with 766 new infections and four deaths.
Thursday also marked another grim milestone with Melbourne shattering the world record for the longest accumulative time under stay-at-home orders with a staggering 235 days.
The city has suffered through six lockdowns recording a death toll of over 900 people.
Victoria is desperately trying to vaccinate its population against the respiratory virus with the jab rate climbing to 45.2 per cent on Wednesday.
To boost inoculations further a decree was made by Premier Daniel Andrews that all teachers and early childhood workers must be double-dosed by November 29.
Construction workers furious over mandatory coronavirus vaccine requirements on job sites protested at Melbourne’s war memorial (pictured on Wednesday)
Protesters march through the streets of Melbourne with one holding Australia’s maritime flag – a symbol often adopted by conspiracy theorists in the ‘sovereign citizens movement’
The issue of Covid vaccination mandates has caused division in some industries, particularly the building sector where workers have taken to the streets clashing with police.
Chanting ‘every day’ from the shrine, hundreds of mostly men without masks, some still wearing high-visibility clothing like in days earlier, had marched through the city to the war memorial.
Heavily armed police surrounded the shrine, with officers slowly moving in on the mob making arrests.
The stand-off lasted more than three hours as police tried to negotiate with protesters to peacefully exit via St Kilda Road.
By 4:30pm, some of the crowd dispersed but dozens remained behind and became rowdy before police fired rubber bullets.
A flare was thrown in retaliation as the riot squad cleared the crowd and took control of the site, which was left strewn with broken bottles and rubbish.
Victoria Police arrested 215 protesters throughout the day while two officers suffered head injuries, and one was taken to hospital with chest pains.
Tap handles, golf balls, batteries and bottles were thrown at them from the shrine.
Chanting ‘every day’ from the shrine, hundreds of mostly men without masks, some still wearing high-visibility clothing like in days earlier, had marched through the city to the war memorial
Victoria Police arrested 215 protesters throughout the day while two officers suffered head injuries, and one was taken to hospital with chest pains
Deputy Commissioner Ross Guenther said: ‘It was completely disrespectful that the crowd ended up at the shrine, which is such hallowed ground in this great city.’
RSL Victoria also slammed the protesters, saying they were ‘completely disrespecting the sanctity’ of the shrine.
‘Melbourne’s Shrine of Remembrance is a sacred place, of critical importance to the current and ex-service members of our community, for commemorating service and for the remembrance of those who have died performing their patriotic duty,’ a statement read.
‘Under no circumstances, ever, should the Shrine be a place of protest.
‘If any individuals or groups choose to express their political views, positions or ideological theories in the grounds of the Shrine at any time, they are completely disrespecting the sanctity of this time-honoured space, those men and women of the Australian Defence Force who have lost their lives, and all Victorian veterans.’
Of the state’s more than 6,600 active Covid cases, over 400 are directly linked to 186 construction sites – with health officials fearing the industry is not taking the deadly virus seriously.
A mob of protesters march aimlessly around Melbourne’s CBD for hours on Tuesday