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Another 60 COVID-19 deaths in Australia, Moderna vaccine approved for young children

There were 17 COVID-19 deaths in Victoria, six in NSW and 37 in Queensland, while children aged six to 11 will have soon have access to the Moderna vaccine.

Another 60 people have died with COVID-19 across Australia.

AdvertisementQueensland reported 37 fatalities, while there were 17 in Victoria reported and six in NSW on Wednesday.

In NSW, where 8,931 new COVID-19 cases were reported, there are 1,246 infected people in hospital with 69 of those in intensive care — a slight drop on Tuesday’s numbers.

Restrictions are easing with QR check-ins dropped at most venues last week, and from Friday masks will no longer be mandatory at most indoor settings.

From Monday staff and students in NSW schools won’t be required to undertake twice-weekly rapid antigen tests, unless they have symptoms.

Instead staff and students will be provided with eight RAT kits to be used as required.

High school students won’t be required to wear masks from next week, Sydney radio 2GB reported on Wednesday.

Masks will be phased out for teachers the following week, it said.

Meanwhile, Victoria has reported 6,926 new infections.

There are 42,016 active cases in the state, a decrease of more than 5000 from Tuesday.

There are 319 people in hospital with COVID-19, 26 fewer than the previous day’s figure, with 22 active cases in intensive care and eight on ventilators.

The latest figures come as the state is days from further restrictions easing, with indoor mask-wearing and working from home rules to be scrapped from 11.59pm on Friday.

Additionally, all remaining elective surgery restrictions will lift on Monday.

Primary school students in year 3 or above will continue to wear masks, as will teachers, but secondary students will not.

Masks will still be required on public transport, in taxis and rideshares, on planes, in airports and at hospitals and care facilities.

Hospitality, retail, court and corrective services workers will still have to don a mask.

Moderna set for child rollout this week

Children aged six to 11 will have access to the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine from Thursday.

The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation has signed off on the vaccine following approval by the Therapeutic Goods Administration last week.

It will be half the adult dose.

“We (will) have Moderna in over 4000 points of presence around the country,” Health Minister Greg Hunt told reporters in Canberra on Wednesday.

So far 49.4 per cent of children aged five to 11 have been vaccinated, with the government calling on schools to play a bigger role in delivery.

Mr Hunt has asked infectious diseases expert Professor Julie Leask to lead a roundtable next week with the Commonwealth, states and health sector to look at what can be done to improve the vaccination rate, including the broader use of schools.

A study by the federal government conducted earlier this year showed at least two-thirds of parents intended to have their children vaccinated.

Some parents have been put off by vaccine misinformation, while others have found it difficult to get time off work or find an accessible local clinic.

First-dose rates for young children across the states vary from 77.2 per cent in the ACT to 42.2 per cent in Queensland, according to the latest health department data.

What’s happening elsewhere?

Queensland recorded 6,300 new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday.

It came as the state reported its second-highest number of daily COVID-19 fatalities since the pandemic began.

There are 379 patients being treated for COVID-19 in hospital and another 35 in intensive care.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk says the deaths did not all occur in the past 24 hours, with 29 of them reported by the Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages.

Tasmania reported 842 new cases and another rise in the state’s number of active infections.

Wednesday’s daily figure is a slight increase on the 820 new infections reported on Tuesday, which was a marked jump from 569 the day prior.

There are 4,080 documented active cases, the eighth day in a row the figure has risen.