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COVID cases drop to pre-Christmas levels

The number of reported COVID-19 cases in Australia fell to the lowest level in more than eight months over the weekend, while the effects of long COVID go under the microscope as part of a new parliamentary inquiry.

There were 5841 new infections announced on Sunday.

The last time the nation’s daily figure was as low was just before Christmas, when there were 5710 new cases.

There were 53 more fatalities at the weekend, taking the national death toll to 14,067.

Eleven deaths have been reported on Monday, but the numbers of new cases has risen to almost 6500.

As case numbers drop, a federal inquiry will explore the health, economic and educational impacts of long COVID and repeated infections.

The House of Representatives health committee will also look into how long COVID affects groups that face a more significant risk of illness due to their age, health conditions or disability.

Long COVID is where symptoms of the virus remain or develop several weeks after the initial infection.

The World Health Organisation has estimated between 10 and 20 per cent of people who have contracted COVID-19 will have ongoing symptoms after the initial infection.

Meanwhile, South Australia will begin vaccinating children under five with pre-existing health conditions.

Eligible children are those severely immunocompromised, have a disability, or have complex or multiple health conditions that increase the risk of severe illness from the coronavirus.

They will receive a lower pediatric dose of the Moderna vaccine, a quarter of the adult dose.

The vaccination shift comes as the minimum isolation period for cases is to be cut from seven days to five from Friday.

The change applies only to people with no symptoms, with workers in high-risk settings such as disability care, aged care and home care also excluded.

Pandemic leave payments will also shorten to reflect the new rules.

Masks will also no longer be mandatory on domestic flights from Friday.

LATEST 24-HOUR COVID DATA:

Victoria: 1709 cases, four deaths, 266 in hospital with 14 in ICU

NSW: 2341 cases, two deaths, 1706 in hospital with 46 in ICU

Qld: 1008 cases, two deaths, 279 in hospital with eight in ICU

Tasmania: 101 cases, no deaths, 30 in hospital with one in ICU.

SA: 406 cases, one death, 100 in hospital with nine in ICU

WA: 758 cases, two deaths, 201 in hospital with five in ICU

NT: 171 cases, no deaths, 19 in hospital with none in ICU

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