Australian authorities are taking legal action to try to stop a Black Lives Matter protest scheduled to take place in Sydney on Saturday, citing the risk of an outbreak of COVID-19 given the large numbers expected to attend.
The last-minute move by the New South Wales (NSW) state government on Friday came after Prime Minister Scott Morrison told people not to attend the gathering and similar rallies in Melbourne and other major cities.
NSW police had originally approved the protest, on the understanding there would be fewer than 500 participants. Organizers now expect thousands of people to attend the gatherings.
“The New South Wales government would never, ever give the green light to thousands of people flagrantly disregarding the health orders,” NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian told reporters in Sydney.
The NSW Supreme Court will hear the matter on Friday afternoon.
Morrison said earlier that people should find other ways to express anger following the death of black American George Floyd in U.S. police custody.
“The health advice is very clear, it’s not a good idea to go,” he told reporters in Canberra. “Let’s find a better way and another way to express these sentiments…. Let’s exercise our liberties responsibly.”
Australia has reported daily single digit and low double digit numbers of new COVID-19 cases in recent weeks and has 490 active cases, with just 25 people in hospital.
According to Johns Hopkins University, which has been tracking coronavirus cases, there are more than 6.6 million cases globally as of early Friday morning ET, and there have been more than 391,000 deaths.
Here’s a look at what’s happening around the world regarding COVID-19 on Friday, updated throughout the day:
Singapore plans to soon launch a wearable device for novel coronavirus contact tracing that, if successful, it will distribute to all of its 5.7 million residents, the government said on Friday.
The city-state has already developed the first-of-its-kind smartphone app to identify and alert people who have interacted with novel coronavirus carriers, but the bluetooth technology has been beset with glitches and the app is not widely used.
“We are developing and will soon roll out a portable wearable device that will … not depend on possession of a smartphone,” foreign minister Vivian Balakrishnan told parliament on Friday.
“If this portable device works. We may then distribute it to everyone in Singapore…. This will be more inclusive, and it will ensure that all of us will be protected.”
The device being developed can be worn on a lanyard or kept in a handbag and will be battery-operated, Balakrishnan said last month in an interview with Sky News Australia.
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