Tue, 19 Oct 2021

SYDNEY, Sept. 22 (Xinhua) -- Australia's second largest city Melbourne, already battling an escalating rise in daily cases of COVID-19, has now been shaken by man-made and natural upheavals.

The state of Victoria recorded 628 new local cases on Wednesday. It is the highest daily increase in the current outbreak which, so far, has grown to 6,223 active cases in the state, mostly clustered around Melbourne.

The record numbers come at a time when the capital city of Victoria is facing a series of protests from furious demonstrators, particularly building industry workers, violently opposed to the continued lockdowns and newly enforced vaccination requirements.

The Victorian government has been pushing hard for construction workers to get vaccinated as they have been among the main transmitters of the disease during this outbreak.

Clashes between riot police, armed with rubber bullets, and protesters that began on Monday again turned violent on Tuesday with demonstrators blocking central business district (CBD) roads, bringing traffic to a stand-still.

Premier Daniel Andrews on Wednesday labelled the demonstrations as "appalling" and "unlawful" and said police would not hesitate to take action against the protesters who were threatening a third day of civil unrest.

Then, on top of the chaos triggered by COVID-19, Victoria was rocked by a 5.8 magnitude earthquake lasting about 20 seconds on Wednesday morning.

Associated tremors were felt as far away as the island state of Tasmania to the south and New South Wales (NSW) to the north.

Meanwhile, NSW recorded 1,035 new local cases in the 24 hours up to Tuesday 8:00 pm local time. The state also had five related deaths during those hours.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian, speaking at her press conference on Wednesday, said the state has administered at least one dose of vaccine to 83 percent of the eligible population and 54.2 percent were now fully vaccinated.

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