Kids vax blitz ahead of NSW school return

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Parents are being urged to get their kids vaccinated and to be vigilant for COVID-19 symptoms ahead of a full return to school in NSW.

© Bianca De Marchi/AAP PHOTOS NSW will have a weekend ‘vaccine blitz’ for 12-15 year olds ahead of all ages returning to classes.

NSW Health will hold a vaccination blitz this weekend, targeting the remaining 23.4 per cent of children aged 12 to 15 who haven’t yet had a first dose of the vaccine.

More than 40 clinics will have walk-in appointments available for kids as they prepare to return to school on Monday.

NSW Deputy Chief Health Officer Marianne Gale on Friday urged parents and children to “remain vigilant”.

“If any of our kids have even the mildest of symptoms, it’s really important not to go to school, it’s important to go and get a test and stay home until you receive a negative result,” she said in a recorded video message.

NSW schools will have full halls for the first time since June next week. 

Students in kindergarten, year 1 and year 12 returned to classrooms on October 18, and the other year groups will join them from Monday.

NSW reported 345 new local COVID-19 cases on Friday. 

The number is slightly lower than the previous day but still higher than most of the past week.

Five more people died, taking the death toll from this outbreak to 592.

They include people in their 30s, 50s, 70s, 80s and 90s.

One person was not vaccinated. Two were fully immunised, including a woman in her 90s who acquired her infection at Prince of Wales Hospital.

The other two had received one dose, including a man in his 70s who became infected at the Greek Orthodox Community Home for the Aged in Earlwood. 

The number of people in hospital continues to fall, now at 482, which is 41 lower than the previous day. 

Of the 125 people in intensive care, 97 are not vaccinated, 17 people have received one dose, and 11 people are fully vaccinated, Dr Gale said. 

Case numbers continue to be evenly divided between Sydney and the regions. 

Some 61 new cases were diagnosed in the Hunter New England Local Health District, 35 in the Murrumbidgee and 25 in the Central Coast.

Southwest Sydney again had the bulk of metropolitan infections, with 63 new cases recorded in that local health district.

Meanwhile, NSW continues its charge out of lockdown with Qantas set to bring back stood-down workers and restart international travel to and from Sydney.

Speaking at Sydney Airport on Friday morning, Premier Dominic Perrottet declared his state was on the “runway to recovery”.

“We do want to open up as quickly as possible,” he said.

“Ultimately it is a confidence game. Confidence got our state though last year … confidence is going to get NSW through this pandemic and stronger out the other side.”

Qantas CEO Alan Joyce attributed his decision to Mr Perrottet’s call to abandon quarantine for international arrivals and federal changes to border rules. 

Flights from Sydney to London and Los Angeles are already on sale, with routes to Singapore, Fiji, Johannesburg, Phuket, Bangkok and Delhi to follow.

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