Virus less severe in children, says Kelly

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Just three of the almost 4000 children aged under 12 infected with coronavirus in Australia this year have needed intensive care treatment.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk sparked fierce national debate after suggesting she would not open her state's borders until young children were vaccinated.

Children aged 12 to 15 have joined the vaccine rollout but no regulator in Australia or abroad has approved coronavirus jabs for people younger than that.

Australia's Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly said immunising parents was the key to protecting young people who are less severely affected than adults.

"The disease in children is very different from what we're seeing in adults," he told reporters in Canberra.

Since January 1, 3815 children under 12 have contracted coronavirus across Australia.

While 134 have been hospitalised, most of those have been for social reasons including their parents being too unwell to care for them.

Three have been admitted to intensive care.

Professor Kelly said the Delta strain - which is spreading across locked-down NSW, Victoria and the ACT - was more transmissible than other variants.

"It is not more severe. There is very little evidence anywhere in the world that severity has increased," he said.

Ms Palaszczuk doubled down on her concerns about unvaccinated children, pointing to rising infection numbers around the world.

The Queensland Labor leader called for more research about vaccination in the 0-12 age range.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said her claim that children would be vulnerable if the virus circulated in Queensland didn't stack up.

"It's a desperate denial of the reality and is not based on the medical advice," he told the Seven Network.

Federal Labor leader Anthony Albanese said he backed the national reopening plan but acknowledged concern in some states about case increases.

"Parents are very worried about their children," he said.

"But we need to follow the health advice."

There were 1288 new cases and seven deaths in NSW, taking the national toll to 1019.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian said leaders needed to "get real" on accepting Australia would never eliminate coronavirus.

"We can't pretend that we're separate nations within one nation," she said.

Victoria, which recorded 176 new cases on Thursday, has dumped its goal of returning to zero cases. However, Melbourne's lockdown will continue while vaccination rates rise.

There were 12 new infections in Canberra.

Six in 10 Australians aged 16 and over have received one coronavirus jab while 36.4 per cent are fully vaccinated.

The Australian Medical Association warns the health system will not cope with rising infection numbers expected when the nation reopens.

There are 184 COVID patients in intensive care nationally, with hospitals in NSW under pressure as case numbers continue to surge.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison, who will discuss the issue with state and territory leaders on Friday, said regular hospital capacity modelling was being undertaken.

"From the start of the pandemic it has been the most regular matter that we have continued to investigate and review to ensure the system capacity," he told parliament.

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