Victorian Minister of Health Martin Foley spoke to the ABC this morning about the relaxation of masks in certain settings. Here are some selected quotes:
“The public health advice is that with the decline in hospitalization rates and the steady and continuous increase in third dose vaccinations, this meeting allowed this advice from the Chief Medical Officer of Health to come to me and we gave up the recommendation… for work and study from home.”
Masks, however, remain compulsory in primary schools.
“It is linked to the level of vaccination in young children aged 5 to 11. Victoria is doing pretty well, I think only behind the ACT in terms of levels. And yes, we need to do more, that’s why we work with pharmacies, general practitioners, pop-ups in these areas. The bottom line is that if we’re going to make sure we can take the next step, it’s to get those 5-11 year olds fully vaccinated as quickly as possible.
Why immunization rates remain lower than the government would like among children aged 5-11:
“There’s a misperception that the worst is behind us and that we don’t need to worry about vaccinations in some neighborhoods. Some it’s just a matter of how easy it is to have the arrangements in place. We tend to see higher rates in areas that have higher vaccination rates in adults and lower rates in children. We are seeing lower rates in adults, so we need to make this as simple as possible. place education and support programs and target area by area, community by community, school by school to raise those rates. And that’s what we’re doing. And we’ll have more to say about those programs because we need these children and the family members of these children at the same high level as the rest of the children.
On the risk for children:
“Well, young children present differently with COVID and the Omicron variant. From the beginning, they are not as sick as the old people. So in that regard, the public health concerns are not as high. But that said, young children live in families. They live in close proximity to adults and even grandparents and older members of the community. So there’s a whole population, a whole community effort, and we need to increase those rates, especially as we approach winter, when we’ll now see international borders reopen. The Commonwealth Chief Medical Officer predicts the return of a major flu season for the first time in several years, and the prospects for a resurgence of Omicron or potential new variants. And we need to take the steps while we have this relative window of opportunity to drive up all those rates, especially with kids.