Sydney will get 50,000 more doses of the Pfizer vaccine this week to battle its worsening COVID outbreak, Canberra said on Saturday, reversing a rebuff by the Australian government and other states the previous day of a plea for more supplies, APA reports citing Reuters.
Australia reported 176 new locally acquired COVID cases on Saturday, a third consecutive daily record with nearly all cases in the state of New South Wales, centred in the country's largest city, Sydney.
Officials fear the outbreak could jeopardise the rest of the country.
Defying a statewide stay-at-home order, however, 3,500 mostly maskless protesters clashed with police in downtown Sydney, decrying a month-long lockdown in what the state police minister said was the best case study of a superspreader event since the start of the pandemic.
"You don't have to be an epidemiologist to work out that if this is a superspreader event, we can forget about lifting restrictions next week," New South Wales Police Minister David Elliott told reporters.
Police arrested 57 people with more under investigation, facing hefty fines and penalties.
There were protests in Melbourne and Adelaide, also under lockdown, and in Brisbane, where there are no restrictions. Police arrested six people in Melbourne, including one for assaulting an emergency worker, and fined dozens of others for failing to comply with orders to stay within 5 km of home.
New South Wales Health Minister Brad Hazzard stressed the state's urgent need for extra vaccine supply, adding that with so many people flouting the stay-at-home orders it was the only way to stop transmission of the virus.
"At the moment it's like fighting a war with both arms behind your back," he told reporters.