Grim warning over 'quiet assumption' underpinning NSW reopening

·2-min read

There is a grim warning circulating about the safety of children as NSW reopens after 15 weeks in lockdown.

Fully vaccinated Greater Sydney residents have been able to enjoy non-essential retail, dine-in restaurants and gyms as part of Monday’s reopening after NSW eclipsed its 70 per cent fully vaccinated target last week.

But Dr Norman Swan, the ABC's medical commentator, told Radio National on Monday morning cases in children could begin to grow. He is concerned with the rule which allows 10 fully-vaccinated visitors into the home. Children, under the age of 12, are exempt.

“The worry is that there is a quiet assumption that we’ll just let infection run amongst children and that we’ll let them acquire herd immunity because it’s a mild disease,” he said.

“But some kids will get sick.”

Parents collect children at St Charle's Primary School at Waverley in Sydney.
Children at St Charle's Primary School at Waverley in Sydney. Source: AAP

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Dr Swan added even fully-vaccinated people do not have complete immunity to the virus and may still get sick.

Provocate consulting group founder Troy Bilsborough told news.com.au governments may need to a “chicken pox” strategy or risk people losing confidence.

By that, he means, telling parents it is better to have Covid-19 as a child than as an adult.

He also said unvaccinated children catching Covid is “the most-overlooked danger” to Australia’s economic recovery.

“The problem is if the cases keep going up and some kids get very sick that’s going to undermine public confidence,” he told news.com.au.

“They need to deal with the kids issue now and explain to the public why it’s safe to reopen without kids being vaccinated, when they’ve just spent six months telling parents if we reopen the adults will end up in ICU.”

Diners sit a a cafe following 108 days of lockdown at Bronte in Sydney.
Diners enjoy food at a cafe in Bronte on Monday morning as the state reopened. Source: AAP

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In NSW, the 16-19 age group has 58.1 per cent fully vaccinated.

Vaccines are also only available to children aged 12 and older.

Dr Swan said NSW’s overall vaccination coverage is “huge” and should offer some protection.

But he still holds concerns for the unvaccinated: particularly in Indigenous communities and in a number of suburbs around Sydney.

Classrooms across NSW will reopen for kindergarten, Year 1 and Year 12 students on October 18 and for all other year levels on October 25.

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