Anti-racism protests undoubtedly increase risk of coronavirus spread – UK health minister

FILE PHOTO: Health Secretary Matt Hancock speaks during a daily briefing to update on the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, at 10 Downing Street in London, Britain June 5, 2020. Pippa Fowles/10 Downing Street/Handout via REUTERS

LONDON (Reuters) – Anti-racism protests attended by thousands of people in London and other major British cities “undoubtedly” risk causing an increase in the number of COVID-19 cases again, British health minister Matt Hancock said on Sunday.

Thousands of people attended protests on Saturday to voice their anger at police brutality after the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, ignoring government advice to avoid large gatherings due to the risk from coronavirus.

Asked during an interview on Sky News whether the number attending protests made an increase in COVID-19 cases more likely, Hancock said: “It is undoubtedly a risk.”

“I support very strongly the argument that is being made by those who are protesting … but the virus itself doesn’t discriminate and gathering in large groups is temporarily against the rules precisely because it increases the risk of the spread of this virus.”

Reporting by Kylie MacLellan; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky

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