Dr. Jeannette Young, Queensland's chief health officer, noted that the state only requires masks from the age of 12 up, just like most other places.
"But we are looking if it's possible to do it for younger [people]. For a start we will have to look at different masks. These masks wouldn't be any use because they are too big," she said. "There's a whole range of things that we need to look at before we could do it, but yes we are definitely looking at [the possibility]."
Mask-wearing makes it harder for young children to develop linguistic skills and prevents children with hearing impairments from lip reading. A team of Italian professors of plastic surgery also warned that the prolonged pressure from the elastic straps could leave young children with permanently protruding ears.
Researchers from the University of Witten/Herdecke in Germany have established an online registry for parents to report on the side effects of mask-wearing. Among the nearly 18,000 parents who chose to respond, more than half reported that the masks gave their children headaches and made it difficult for them to concentrate.
More than one-third cited other side effects: increased reluctance to go to school, unhappiness, malaise, impaired learning, drowsiness and fatigue.
After considering those reports as well as testimony from other researchers, a court in Germany recently ruled in favor of a mother arguing that her children's basic rights were being violated by the mandates for masks and social distancing at her children's two schools.
The court ordered the schools to end the mandates, declaring that they damaged the "mental, physical and spiritual well-being" of students while failing to offer "any discernible benefit for the children themselves."
A recent article published by City Journal said "it became clear long ago that the virus causing COVID-19 is less dangerous to children than the flu, and that keeping schools open poses minimal risk of spreading infections." There were also studies showing how social distancing and masks hinder learning while harming children emotionally, socially and physically.
Still, many schools have yet to reopen full-time, while others are still making students as miserable as possible. Schools have canceled many sports and other extracurricular activities while forcing children to wear masks in classrooms and on playgrounds.
The current Queensland outbreak began with the case of a 17-year-old schoolgirl at Indooroopilly State High School, with subsequent cases genomically linked to that particular cluster – including all of the new cases. Four of the cases had been exposed in the community while infectious. The new cases bring the number of cases in the current outbreak to 79.
"We did not expect to be this far in front of the virus," Young said. "There were only five days that they were out in the community while infectious and of those five days, all happened while we were in that lockdown so they should have [had] minimal interactions."
A further 11 cases were acquired overseas, with members of a ship anchored off Gladstone to be cared for on board unless their condition changes. The state conducted another 52,350 COVID-19 tests on Aug. 4 – a record for Queensland.
Concerns are growing about the effect of the latest outbreak on children, with 44 of the 63 cases comprising people below 19 years old – including more than 20 between 0 and 9 years old. Seven Brisbane schools had since been caught up in the outbreak.
Most of the children infected by the delta variant are being treated at the Queensland Children's Hospital. (Related: Delta variant of the coronavirus will be the new excuse for tyrannical health measures.)
"We do have a lot of children in hospital, but they are not particularly unwell," Young said. "Thank goodness we have got the Children's Hospital which is one of the best hospitals in Australia for children. I'm very confident that we can manage them there."
Young confirmed 65 out of the state's 122 active cases were currently in hospital. Daily case numbers have increased since the lockdown went into effect on July 31, but authorities are hopeful of lifting those restrictions soon. Officials pleaded with Queenslanders from the Gold Coast to Noosa to only go out for essential items, and even consider limiting online shopping.
"If we don't do something really, really special in Queensland, we'll be extending the lockdown, so please. Try your absolute hardest to stay at home," Young said.
She asked people to delay online and "click and collect" shopping for non-essential items until the end of the lockdown to further prevent movement on the streets. "Do you need those people out in the community, delivering packages?" she said.
Online fashion retailer Fleur Richardson said Young's comments were "removed from reality."
"What Jeanette Young is really saying is stop the economy," Richardson said. "We are very conscious as employers about how many families we feed and so we are putting the well-being of our employees first."
There are now almost 200 COVID-19 exposure sites for close and casual contact across southeast, central and far north Queensland. Authorities were still investigating the case of a Cairns pilot who tested positive for the delta variant on Tuesday, August 3, despite being fully vaccinated.
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