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Australia locks 300,000 in Melbourne after Coronavirus Surge

MELBOURNE, Australia – Ring Mayar knocks on doors in Melbourne’s western suburbs all day, asking residents if they have a cough, fever or chills.

Even if it doesn’t, he encourages them to get tested for the corona virus as the authorities are trying to catch up on a series of outbreaks that threaten to revise Australia’s success story in controlling the spread.

“It’s pretty daunting,” said Mayar, president of the South Sudanese Community Association in Victoria, who volunteered in one of the mostly immigrant communities where cases are increasing.

The surge in infections – Victoria reported 77 new cases on Thursday, most since March – has driven home the overwhelming effects of the coronavirus on communities where working class immigrants and key workers are particularly vulnerable to the disease. In these places, people often have to go to jobs that are at risk of contracting the virus and communication between the authorities in the native languages ​​of the residents can be patchy.

On Tuesday, the authorities said that people in the 10 worst affected postal codes would stay in their homes for the next four weeks to stop the virus from spreading. International flights were diverted from Melbourne, a city of nearly five million people, and an investigation into quarantine protocol violations was initiated.

“You almost need a university degree to understand it,” said Mohammad Al-Khafaji, executive director of the Australian Councils for the Federation of Ethnic Communities, about a multi-page document about the corona virus that the government had translated into Arabic.

He and other experts also warned that police-enforced bans – especially in times of global police abuse control – could only harm and exacerbate communities that fear the authorities.

“We have to get people to understand the importance of being at home. It doesn’t happen through fines or through over-police, ”said Rebecca Wickes, associate professor of criminology and director of the Migration and Inclusion Center at Monash University in Melbourne. “It won’t lead to the behavior change we’re looking for.”

She added that a first wave of racism related to the coronavirus had been targeted Asian people, a second wave against migrants and ethnic communities, emerged from misunderstandings that these groups ignored public health advice.

Leaders of the Islamic community also said they were concerned that anti-Muslim sentiment had risen after reports that one of the Melbourne clusters was formed during an oath celebration last month.

It is not these underprivileged communities that deserve the blame, said Professor Wickes, but the “global citizens who return to Aspen from their cruises and ski trips. We seem to have forgotten the story of how this virus prevailed in Australia. “

For Mr. Mayar, removing the stigma of the virus and the racism associated with it is associated with every knock on a door: although he wears gloves and takes care to keep a distance of two meters between himself and the residents, he does not wear a mask .

He recognizes the associated risks. “But in the end we are human and don’t want to look like aliens,” he said. “Even when we meet someone who is sick, we have to show our compassion.”

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