Three children under 12 are fighting for their lives in Sydney hospitals - including a baby on a ventilator - as the Covid crisis in NSW worsens.
The infant who requires ventilation is believed to be the youngest person to ever be placed in ICU with Covid in Australia.
A nine-year-old child also requires ventilation while a third, believed to be under 12, is being treated with a hi-flow CPAP machine to help them breathe.
All three children have underlying health conditions which may strongly contribute to the severity of the virus.
Covid generally does not cause serious illness in young children.
Some 2,000 people under the age of 18 are now infected with the respiratory virus statewide and are seeking assistance from the Sydney Children's Hospital network.
In addition to the standard inpatient services, medical professionals are offering a 24-hour virtual health service providing care to children who are well enough to be cared for at home.
There is also a 'home in hospital' facility for kids whose parents or carers are being treated for Covid in a hospital.
Children under 12 are not yet approved for a vaccine anywhere in the world, and this is not likely to change until at least mid-September.
Globally, children under 12 are not yet eligible for Covid-19 vaccines, so the best way to safeguard them as much as possible is for the community to have a high vaccination coverage,' Sydney Children’s Hospital Network said.
Teenagers between 16 and 18 are eligible for the Pfizer vaccine, while the Moderna jab, which will be rolled out in Australia, has also been provisionally approved for 12 and up.
More than 20.6 million doses of vaccine have been administered across Australia since the pandemic began.
In NSW, 40.3 percent of the eligible population are fully vaccinated, while 72.7 percent have received their first jab.
There are 1,041 Covid cases in hospitals across Sydney, with 173 people in intensive care and 62 on ventilators.
Despite repeated assertions that Covid does not generally impact young people as severely, Queensland premier Annastacia Palaszczuk came under fire for making unfounded statements indicating children under 12 were at risk.
In Queensland's Parliament on Wednesday, the premier said: 'You open up this state and you let the virus in here, every child under 12 is vulnerable, every single child.
'Anyone who has a child under 12 is vulnerable because they are the unvaccinated,' she claimed.
Chief medical officer Paul Kelly also shut down Ms. Palaszczuk's controversial claims on kids.
He said there have been 3,815 cases of Delta virus infection in children under the age of 12 but only 134 hospitalisations, a 3.5 percent hospitalisation rate.
'And we know from NSW data that most of the kids that have been admitted to hospital have been for social reasons, not because they are particularly unwell – their parents are sick and can't look after them,' he said.
'So the hospitalisation rate is small and most of those are not because of severe illness. There have only been three children under the age of 12 admitted to intensive care. Three out of 3,815, way less than one in 1,000.'