Black Lives Matter rallies could spread disease, Chief Medical Officer Brendan Murphy said

Australia’s top medical officer says it would be catastrophic if the coronavirus spread to remote indigenous communities, as protesters are urged not to attend Black Lives Matter rallies.

Thousands are expected at protests in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Hobart on Saturday to show solidarity with the movement and African-American George Floyd who died while being arrested in Minneapolis.

The Australian protests are also a show of support to the Aboriginal community to highlight high levels of indigenous incarceration and deaths in custody. Professor Brendan Murphy says authorities have always feared an outbreak in indigenous communities.

“The risk to loss of life and spread of this virus in some of those remote communities would be catastrophic,” he said on Friday.

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“This would be an absolute tragedy if we got that virus into one of our remote communities.” Huge crowds gathered in Perth, Sydney and Canberra this week to support the movement.

The NSW government initially endorsed the protests but on Friday, the state’s highest court banned a protest against Aboriginal deaths in custody because it breached coronavirus restrictions.

About 5000 people were expected to rally at Sydney Town Hall on Saturday in honour of George Floyd and Australian man David Dungay Jr, but Supreme Court Justice Des Fagan declined to approve the Stop All Black Deaths in Custody rally as an authorised public assembly.

Before the decision, however, Mr Dungay’s mother vowed she would march regardless of the ruling.


Meanwhile in Europe, the UK’s death toll of people who have died after testing positive for coronavirus has officially reached 40,000.

Only the US has more deaths, with 108,000 during the pandemic so far.

It comes as the UK starts to ease parts of lockdown with more children due to return to schools on June 15 in England and face coverings made mandatory on public transport.

Despite the rules, the BBC has revealed secret all-night raves have been taking place in London after being advertised on Instagram.

The EU has said it will not open borders to travellers from the rest of the world before July. The 27-member bloc closed borders to Asia, the Americas and elsewhere in a bid to slow the virus in a ban that expires June 15. However Ylva Johansson, the EU’s home affairs commissioner, said there was a “strong preference” among the ministers to extend it.

Restrictions are also still in place between some EU member states, but they are slowly being lifted and the commission hopes this process will be completed soon.

“That means that internal border controls are lifted by the end of June … we should consider the gradual lifting restrictions on non-essential travel to the EU early July,” Johansson told reporters.


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