Protesters clash with police in Australia

(melbourne aerial footage Edit No: 6005)

Australian police clashed with anti-lockdown protesters on Saturday.

In Melbourne, officers were seen pepper-spraying a crowd of thousands as they swarmed police lines.

Seven police officers were hospitalized and hundreds of demonstrators were arrested.

The scuffles came after state Premier Daniel Andrews expanded a lockdown in Melbourne to the entire state of Victoria.

Police there vowed to hand out fines of $3,900 to those they could identify as having taken part in the protests.

(upsound, Sydney protests PROTESTER BEING PUSHED TO GROUND AND HANDCUFFED BY POLICE OFFICERS Edit No: 6003)

Elsewhere in Sydney, riot police broke up a planned anti-lockdown march in the city centre and took several people into custody.

(health officials, press conference)

The unrest came as the country reported its highest ever single-day rise in COVID-19 cases.

Most of the nearly 900 cases reported across Australia on Saturday were found in Sydney, the epicenter of the Delta variant-fueled outbreak.

The country's health minister Brad Hazzard described the situation in New South Wales as "very serious" and urged people to get vaccinated.

"There is no time now to be selfish, it's time to think of the broader community and your families. If you are actually spreading the virus, you could be responsible for people's deaths."

(Edit No: 4004, Source: NEW SOUTH WALES POLICE / NINE NETWORK, 6. VARIOUS OF POLICE OFFICER CONDUCTING COMPLIANCE CHECK OF HOMES (FACE BLURRED AT SOURCE)

Australia is battling its third wave of infections, which began in Sydney in mid-June.

Officials in New South Wales said on Saturday that nearly a hundred people were active in their communities whilst infected with COVID-19.

And that there have been a number of breaches of public health orders that have slowed efforts to curtail the outbreak.

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