A man who attended the weekend’s Black Lives Matter rally in Melbourne, alongside thousands of other protesters, has tested positive to COVID-19.
Victoria Health confirmed the case was among eight new virus cases in the state on Thursday morning, with an aged care worker and toddler among the others.
Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton said it’s unlikely the protester, a man aged in his 30s, picked up the virus at the rally on Saturday, but there’s a chance he could have been “potentially infectious” at the time.
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“This case is unlikely to have been acquired at the protest but we were all concerned about the possibility of transmission occurring at that protest, or indeed in other places across Australia,” he said.
It’s understood the protester began to develop symptoms of COVID-19 on Sunday, the day after he attended the rally.
“Within 24 hours there is the possibility of being infectious before you develop symptoms. How infectious someone is, is not clear, but it is known that people can transmit the virus within 24 hours of developing symptoms… So, you know, that’s a concern,” Dr Sutton said.
He confirmed the protester did wear a mask, which he says is “obviously helpful” but masks are “not 100% protection”.
“They weren’t symptomatic at the time. But we will go through the normal process of identifying anyone who is defined as a close contact,” Dr Sutton said.
“So, people who have had more than 15 minutes face-to-face contact with that individual. They will all be asked to quarantine, required to quarantine, that’s the normal process with any confirmed case in Victoria.”
He urged anyone who attended the weekend’s protest to remain alert to the symptoms of coronavirus and get tested if they fear they could have the disease.
“So the lesson about warning people not to attend applies, the directions in place that limit mass gatherings that limit gatherings of any size to 20 are for a reason,” the state’s Chief Health Officer said.
“I hope that anyone who has attended that and indeed, across Victoria, who developed symptoms that are compatible with coronavirus, really need to isolate themselves, get tested, get that result back and become well before they get out and about again.”
People are being reminded that there are several symptoms associated with the highly contagious virus.
“We really need to keep an eye out and people do need to have an absolute awareness that if they develop symptoms, including mild symptoms, so, cough, sore throat, runny nose, shortness of breath, fever or change of taste or smell, sometimes diarrhoea or abdominal strain… There are many symptoms,” Dr Sutton confirmed.
“The lesson here is it’s not over for Victoria and it’s not over for Australia in terms of ongoing cases being detected,” he said.