Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack revived the claim that Victoria’s second wave of coronavirus cases was caused in part by a Black Lives Matter protest in June on Q+A before backing down.
Host Hamish McDonald interjected nine times to challenge Mr McCormack’s assertion, which he initially defended. “There were three confirmed cases from one of those protest rallies,” Mr MrCormack said. Contact tracers did not know who may have caught the virus there, he said.
There were six cases of coronavirus detected among people who attended the rally in Melbourne on June 6, which conservative politicians at the time argued led to a subsequent sharp spike in cases. But the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services has said there is no evidence to show the protesters acquired the virus there or that it spread to people in public housing towers, which were locked down and formed part of the second wave.
When McDonald put that to Mr McCormack, he relented. “I’ll accept that but people shouldn’t be protesting,” Mr McCormack said. Australian Medical Association president Omar Khorshid agreed there was no evidence the protest spread the virus but backed up Mr McCormack’s broader point, saying large gatherings like protests risked mass transmission of the virus.