Victoria has confirmed 37,994 new Covid cases as NSW reported 25,870 infections and new close contact rules came into force to get food back onto Australian supermarket shelves.
Transmission in both states rose slightly on Tuesday – up from 30,062 (a 21 per cent rise) in Victoria and 20,293 (a 22 per cent rise) in NSW the day before.
New Covid-19 deaths in Victoria rose from two on Monday to 13 on Tuesday, but Covid-related fatalities fell in NSW from 18 to 11.
There are 170 Covid patients in NSW ICU units (up 11 from Monday) and 117 (down one from Monday) in intensive care in Victoria.
The latest figures came as asymptomatic critical food industry workers in NSW, Queensland and Victoria were told they could leave self-isolation to go to work even if they were classified as close contacts of a confirmed case.
Grocery bosses have warned fruit and vegetables could be left to rot as hundreds of workers are forced into isolation because of Covid-19 infection or exposure.
Health Minister Greg Hunt says there will more than enough vaccines available for the 2.3 million children eligible for a jab with three million doses on hand over January
But Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese said parents are anxious because they can’t get appointments for their children
As of this week, children aged between five and 11 are eligible for the vaccine for the first time ever in Australia with NSW and Victoria racing to get as many children vaccinated before the start of the school term.
While just over 78 per cent of children aged 12 to 15 in NSW have been fully vaccinated, premier Dominic Perrottet said he was determined to send children back to the classrooms on January 28.
With a three week gap recommended between jabs, very few will be fully vaccinated when classrooms open their doors amid the nation’s biggest outbreak.
Queensland has made the decision to delay the start of the school term by another two weeks and won’t send children back to the classroom until February 7.
‘More than 18,000 kids aged five to 11 have caught COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic, which highlights why vaccination is so important,’ premier Dominic Perrottet said.
‘We saw a great vaccination response for children aged 12-15 years, so we hope parents will book in their younger children before they start or go back to school.
‘I want to also encourage anyone who has not yet received a COVID-19 vaccination to do so. This includes adults who had their second dose four months ago and are now due for a booster.’
Mr Perrottet dismissed concerns some parents would not be able to have their children vaccinated before the school term as several had complained about being unable to make a booking.
‘Obviously this time of year is difficult for GPs because many are on leave,’ he said. But there are mixed stories.
‘They heard yesterday that people were struggling to get access to booster shots, but I heard many people were walking into the Homebush vaccination centre and getting a booster shot.
The cases come as children aged between five and 11 became eligible for the vaccine for the first time ever in Australia with NSW and Victoria racing to get as many children vaccinated before the start the school term
‘There are many avenues available. I spoke to somebody this morning he made a booking just yesterday for the child to be vaccinated and received an appointment tomorrow.’
Some 63,000 children have already been booked in to receive the vaccine with NSW health minister Brad Hazzard praising parents for acting quickly.
‘Whether it be measles or whooping cough or Pneumococcal or Hepatitis B, parents in NSW have always listened to the science to help protect their kids,’ he said.
‘No one wants to see their child in hospital and the best way we can safeguard our kids against COVID-19 and importantly, the elderly around them, is to get them vaccinated.’
Health Minister Greg Hunt says there will more than enough vaccines available for the 2.3 million children eligible for a jab with three million doses on hand over January.
However, while daily infection numbers are staggering compared to the impact of previous variants, Mr Hunt said severe illness has been relatively low
‘We want to encourage all parents to bring their children forward over the period between now and the end of January to protect them and help protect the community,’ Mr Hunt told reporters in Canberra on Sunday via video-link.
‘I am aware and delighted that some general practices and pharmacies have already begun, they have received their vaccines, they have commenced the program and I think that is great news.’
But Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese said parents are anxious because they can’t get appointments for their children.
‘That’s a major problem. We need to make sure that is addressed. And this government have had a long time to prepare, making sure that supply was okay,’ he told reporters in Ingham, Queensland.
He said this has led to Queensland’s decision to delay the start of the school year by two weeks.
‘That will have, of course, a further impact on the workforce and a further impact on the economy,’ Mr Albanese said.