About a third of COVID-19 cases in WA are under the age of 18, as 9,727 new infections have been recorded

Western Australia’s COVID-19 cases are yet to reach their expected peak, with new figures showing that about a third of last week’s infections occurred in children under 18.

COVID-19 hospitalizations and ICU admissions remain stable in WA, with the state still to break through the 10,000 new daily cases.

It comes after restrictions were eased today, reducing capacity limits and the number of locations where check-ins are required.

At 8 p.m. last night there were 219 people in hospital, up from 208 yesterday, and seven in intensive care.

A total of 9,727 new cases have been reported, bringing the total number of active infections to 52,533.

High rate of infections in young people

New figures from WA Health have shown that about 35 percent of last week’s COVID infections were reported in children under the age of 18.

Most schools in Western Australia have been affected by COVID-19.ABC News: Evelyn Manfield

The latest data from New South Wales showed similar infection rates in that age group.

Earlier this week, WA Education Secretary Sue Ellery said 992 of the roughly 1,130 schools in the state are currently affected by the virus.

To date, more than 5,500 employees and 90,000 students have been forced into isolation, either as a positive case or close contact.

Having registered the lowest double-dose vaccination rate for children aged five to 11 earlier this month, WA is now above the Northern Territory and Queensland at 23 percent.

Nearly 80 percent of 12- to 15-year-old children are fully vaccinated.

About 2 pc of the population has a virus

WA’s current caseload means that about two in 100 people currently have COVID-19.

To try to control the high rate of infections among young people, the government in East Perth has set up a special pediatric health clinic for children and parents in isolation.

While some health checks for children up to the age of two can be done by phone, the clinic can assist those who need urgent in-person assistance.

Health Minister Amber-Jade Sanderson said these include mothers who are having breastfeeding difficulties, or babies with growth problems who need immediate personalized attention.

A woman with short hair standing in front of microphones and looking to the side.
Amber-Jade Sanderson says the clinics will ensure mothers get the support they need.ABC News: Keane Bourke

“For many families, child health care may be their only contact with the health system, so it is important to ensure that all families, especially the most vulnerable, receive a service that meets their needs,” she said.

A second clinic is scheduled for Duncraig in the coming weeks.

Partygoers take to the streets at midnight

Most cases today, 5,664, were detected by rapid antigen testing, and 4,063 came from 17,787 PCR tests.

Prime Minister Mark McGowan said those numbers demonstrate the value of providing free RATs to the community.

A long line outside a nightclub
There was a long line to get to Flight Club in Perth as relaxed restrictions went into effect.Night news

Revelers took the opportunity to head back to nightclubs last night, with crowds queuing for the official easing of restrictions at 12:01 p.m.

Pubs and restaurants are open to higher capacity limits, and more people are also allowed at private gatherings.

Premier flags ongoing restrictions

Mr McGowan reiterated that hospital admissions and ICU rates were the key figures to watch, and said some restrictions could be in place for a “significant period of time”.

“It’s all about making sure we have the right balance of restrictions coupled with increasing vaccination levels,” he said.

The prime minister has said the government will further ease restrictions once it is safe to do so.

He also encouraged people to go out and support local businesses, while remaining cautious and making sure they wear masks.

When asked about speculation that Premier League club Manchester United could return to Perth later this year, Mr McGowan said the government was working with a number of organizers to bring events to Perth.

Mark McGowan laughs.
Mark McGowan said organizers can rest assured to bring events west.ABC News: Keane Bourke

But he said they could be sure they planned to come to WA.

“Our very high vaccination levels mean the border remains open,” he said.

Opposition calls for more details

Opposition leader Mia Davies continued to pressure the government to provide more details about its plans to further relax restrictions, including a better understanding of when more changes would be made.

A close-up of Mia Davies outside Parliament.
Mia Davies wants more transparency about the government’s plans to relax restrictions.ABC News: Eliza Laschon

“We want trigger points, we want to understand how the government makes those decisions, because there’s still an impact on small businesses, on civil society organizations,” she said.

“It’s about being open and transparent, and that’s something we’ve struggled with in terms of this McGowan Labor government when it comes to making announcements related to COVID.”

Ms Davies said the government also had to ensure that restrictions such as G2G passes and proof of vaccination were commensurate with the risks.

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