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Opinion - Dr Jeannette Young: "COVID-19 in children"

Opinion piece - Please attribute the below to Dr Jeannette Young, Chief Health Officer:

Let’s start with two indisputable facts.

The Delta variant is a heinous virus that has disrupted our lives and even threatened the health of our kids.

And Queenslanders are an extraordinary bunch of people who have a knack for overcoming tough times.

Neither of these points are secret but they became glaringly obvious in the past week following the emergence of the “Indooroopilly” cluster.

Thanks to your caring, selfless spirit, we have managed to somewhat fend off what could have been a crisis. Somehow, we have been able to ease some restrictions just over a week after recording the first local case of the cluster.

That’s not to say we have not suffered during lockdown or that we are even in the clear – we still have more than 100 cases associated with the cluster.

Make no mistake – this cluster still concerns me.

But the outcomes in the past week indicate the cluster is on its way to being contained.

To have daily cases in the single digits is a remarkable feat given the grip this disease can have on communities.

Look at other countries. Even other states.

It’s because of you. Your willingness to stay home, to wear a mask, to sacrifice simple pleasures like a coffee with friends, a dinner out with family, a trip to the shops.

And I’m aware this lockdown hurt many people financially. I am truly sympathetic to those people and those businesses and I wish there were other ways to protect people during an outbreak.

Our Cairns family, friends and colleagues will begin a similar situation today, and we hope its only for a few days.

However, there is no safe and effective way to protect the Queensland population, at least until we reach herd immunity with vaccinations.

In all likelihood, we will endure more lockdowns before that happens.

If the original COVID-19 was a formidable foe, then the Delta variant is a stronger, super strain that requires every ounce of effort to fight.

As we’ve seen, it has attacked our children and our youths, affecting them far more than other variants.

While young people are less likely to fall severely ill if they are infected, they are now believed to be able to transmit the virus to other people.

This wasn’t the case with earlier strains. That’s what we are concerned about.

More than 65 of the cluster’s cases are 19 or under. Five schools were impacted.

So far, more than 15,000 people are contacts, and more than 10,000 were quarantined.

Had it not been for a quickly imposed lockdown and the will of Queenslanders to abide by the rules, these numbers could’ve spread like wildfire.

We could be reporting a death toll alongside daily case numbers.

We can’t claim to have beaten Delta.

The best we can say is we are weathering a Delta storm, and probably not the last one.

But I know Queensland will be ready.


Last updated: 8 August 2021