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Our children's future and covid

In this covid world, what will the 'new normal' be like for children?

by Susanna Freymark, 08/25/2021, 3 min read

NEW life. New way of life.

BENTLEY’S Vanessa Morgan and Sean Rich welcomed their baby daughter to the world during lockdown. Because of stay-home public health orders, they were unable to have family and friends visit.

“It’s given us time to bond as a family. We’re looking forward to introducing our baby girl Ivy to the family once the lockdown eases,” Sean said.

Sean Rich welcomes Ivy to Bentley and lockdown. Photo: Contributed

Premier Gladys Berejiklian said, “We’re trying to get to a normal life as soon as possible.”

But what will “normal” look like for our children?

In 20 years will they look back at 2020-21 as the covid years? Or will covid continue to be a part of their lives well into the future?

Jack Pirlo was born in February last year as the nation went into its first lockdown, his second birthday could look the same.

His mother Lilly Wilson from Coraki said being in lockdown after he was born meant she couldn’t see family or friends.

“Jack can’t do things I did as a child,” Lilly said. “I never grew up with people wearing masks.”

At 18 months, Jack is full of energy as he careers around his grandmother’s Kyogle garden. He doesn’t know about the pandemic or why people wear face masks.

CATCH ME: Jack Pirlo runs around his grandmother’s garden in Kyogle without a covid care in the world. Photo: Susanna Freymark

NSW Public Health encourages parents of children two and above to fit face masks to the children when out of the house.

For schoolchildren, Ms Berejiklian said September would remain as a month of home schooling for Sydney children under 12 years.

“It is important teachers are vaccinated. We’ve started vaccinating HSC students,” she said. “We want to make sure that when students go back to school it is a safe environment.”

Since the covid pandemic hit Australian shores, there have been 981 deaths from covid out of more than 44,000 cases. These numbers seem small by comparison to the 4.43 million who died from covid across the world.

It isn’t only about the numbers but the speed of the spread. The delta variant of covid has shifted the conversation with more young people in hospital from the effects of the virus.

The push from state governments has been to vaccinate.

As is being seen in Israel and the UK,  two countries with an 80% vaccination rate, there has been a rise in case numbers from the delta variant, but fewer deaths.

Deputy Premier John Barilaro said in the near future, they will stop reporting on the number of cases as covid becomes “something” we live with.

Instead, the number of ICU admissions and covid deaths will be the measure of how Australia is coping with the virus, he said.

Mr Barilaro meets with the crisis cabinet this afternoon to discuss the lifting of restrictions in some LGAs in regional NSW.

The criteria for this would be based on active covid cases in the LGA, sewage surveillance and the covid status of neighbouring LGAs. This bodes well for both Kyogle and Richmond Valley LGAs.

But, as we’ve seen in the past year, covid can strike quickly.

As for our children, while HSC students are being vaccinated, there is yet to be a statement from the government on vaccinating children under 12.

When that happens, it may offer some protection of our children.

A normal life looks like being one where we live with covid (as we do with the ever-changing flu) and adjust to its impact rather than eliminate it.

Australia’s covid plan

Phase 1  Current Phase – Vaccinate, prepare and pilot, with a continuing focus on strongly suppressing the virus, including the use of early and stringent short lockdowns to minimise community transmission.

Phase 2 Post vaccination phase – focussed on minimisation of serious illness, hospitalisation and deaths from covid through a combination of vaccination and some ongoing light social restrictions.

Phase 3  Consolidation phase – public health management of covid consistent with other infections but no lockdown requirement.

Phase 4 Final phase – removal of all border restrictions

from the Doherty Institute Modelling Report for National Cabinet