News Coronavirus Health boss urges protesters to self-isolate, as new coronavirus cases emerge
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Health boss urges protesters to self-isolate, as new coronavirus cases emerge

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Protest organisers have also urged attendees to exercise caution. Photo: AAP
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Australian Medical Association president Tony Bartone has urged anyone who attended Black Lives Matter demonstrations over the weekend to self-isolate.

Dr Bartone’s call echoes a message from Warriors of the Aboriginal Resistance (WAR) – which organised the Melbourne protest – that told attendees to self-isolate for at least 14 days.

Victoria announced three new coronavirus cases on Monday – a returned traveller in hotel quarantine, and a resident of Hawthorn Gardens aged care facility in Bright, north-eastern Victoria.

The Department of Health and Human Services confirmed about 25 remaining residents of the 40-bed residential aged care facility had been placed in quarantine and contact tracing had started.

New South Wales recorded three new cases, including two returned travellers and a third under investigation.

There have been 7260 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Australia and 102 deaths.

More than 1.6 million tests have been conducted across the country.

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A resident of a Bright aged care home is among the latest infections. Photo: Google

Victoria’s chief health officer Professor Brett Sutton said anyone who marched at the weekend and felt sick needed to get tested immediately.

Warriors of the Aboriginal Resistance told its Facebook followers in a post on Monday morning they should not visit elderly people for two weeks and speak with a doctor if they developed any possible COVID-19 symptoms.

Many thousands of Australians took to the streets over the weekend after the death of African-American man George Floyd, 46, while in police custody, despite advice from health officials not to attend for fear of sparking a second wave of coronavirus infections.

Dr Bartone said Australia was still in the early stages of relaxing its coronavirus restrictions.

“Mass gatherings are certainly the last gatherings on the list [of restrictions] and it was clearly against the advice of all the health authorities,” he said.

Hundreds of demonstrators gathered outside the Sydney Town Hall housing the chambers of the Lord Mayor of Sydney during the mass protest on Saturday. Photo: AAP

Out of an “abundance of caution” he said those who attended should “consider their position” and look at the option of isolating themselves from the community.

Simon Birmingham, Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment, described the timing of Black Lives Matter marches as “incredibly unfortunate”, but acknowledged it was not of the protesters’ choosing.

“I think the timing was incredibly unfortunate and I accept events that occurred in the United States were not within the control of any of the protest organisers,” Senator Birmingham told ABC radio on Monday.

“Nonetheless, there could have been other ways of trying to create the type of movement and symbolism the protesters sought without having to resort to mass gatherings.”

Finance Minister Mathias Cormann previously described the protests as reckless, irresponsible and self indulgent.

Labor’s indigenous affairs spokesman Pat Dodson said it was not responsible to describe protesters as uncaring.

“Unless there’s a voice to the Parliament that can express clearly the compassion and concerns Aboriginal people have got over the predicaments they face on many fronts, then you’re going to have people defying the odds to try and at least get their point of view across,” Senator Dodson told ABC radio.

“That can be a great risk to themselves as to others.”

Australia’s chief health officers are meeting on Monday to discuss the next step in easing coronavirus restrictions.

Deputy chief medical officer Paul Kelly said the mass rallies would be taken into account.

“At the moment, it won’t change how we are viewing those processes, but in particular states it may do, depending what happens in relation to any cases that crop up,” he told reporters on Sunday.

-with AAP