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Virus cases continue to fall, but 'too early to say' if Covid peak has passed: Butler

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Federal Health Minister Mark Butler admits it’s still too early to tell if the peak of the recent COVID-19 wave has passed, following a slight downturn in case numbers.

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As the prime minister prepares to meet with state and territory leaders on Thursday morning at national cabinet to discuss the virus, Butler said he was optimistic infections would continue to decrease.

“We are not calling (the end of the peak) yet, there is what we have seen through the pandemic something of a school holiday effect where transmission appears to dip off,” he told the Nine Network.

“It does seem cases are dropping off in some states, and hospital numbers have dropped off in the last couple of weeks, they’re still very large.”

Anthony Albanese will join his state and territory counterparts on Thursday via video-link, where they will be updated on pandemic and Monkeypox responses by Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly.

As well, federal Agriculture Department Secretary Andrew Metcalfe will provide a briefing on foot and mouth disease.

The meeting comes a day after Australia’s vaccine advisory group ATAGI approved the Moderna vaccine for children aged between six months and five-years-old.

However, the vaccine has only been recommended for children in the cohort who are immunocompromised or have complex or multiple health conditions.

It’s estimated there are 70,000 children in the age group who will be eligible for the vaccine.

Butler said there would be enough vaccine doses for children to meet demand, with 500,000 vaccines ordered.

“We will be one of the first countries in the world … to secure this brand new vaccine and start rolling them out in September to give protection to some of our youngest and most vulnerable kids,” he said.

The health minister said ATAGI would continue to monitor the situation with COVID infections in children.

He said it was still too early to determine whether to expand the vaccine rollout to all children in the age range.

“(ATAGI) is going to continue to monitor the data that is particularly going to come out of the larger vaccination programs for this age cohort in the US and Canada and … keep it under consideration.”

Advice published by ATAGI, says there is a “very low risk” of COVID-19 in healthy children under five.

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