Leigh Sales cops backlash after ‘disturbing’ Covid-19 restriction comment

Feb 18, 2022
Leigh Sales has two sons of her own, indicating in her announcement that they were partly the reason she was stepping away from the top job. Source: Getty

A week after her shocking announcement that she will be stepping down as presenter of ABC‘s nightly current affairs program 7.30, Leigh Sales is facing online backlash for calling out the “disturbing” impact Covid-19 restrictions have on children. 

On Friday, February 18, the Walkley Award-winning journalist shared an article from The Sydney Morning Herald about the impacts lockdowns and Covid-19 restrictions have had on children’s mental health. 

The article Sales refers to, reports that young people are “suffering anxiety, insomnia and developmental delays believed to be linked to the pandemic”.

Speaking to the news publication, Sydney Morning Herald, Sydney paediatrician and president-elect of the Royal Australasian College of Physicians (RACP), Dr Jacqueline Small, said she noticed a recent rise in children showing signs of developmental delays. 

Dr Small explained while some children have adjusted well to the changes brought by the pandemic, there are a few cases where the “loss of learning is very significant”.

According to News.com.au, children have the same chances of catching the Covid-19 virus as anyone else but are less likely to endure severe illness, with some not experiencing symptoms at all. 

There is, however, still a considerable amount of cases where children have been hospitalised or died from Covid-19. 

Dr Small also pointed out that the impacts of the virus are generally more severe for adults – sharing that children’s wellbeing has taken a “back seat.”

Sales’s comments on the article sparked outrage from other Twitter users, many of whom have pointed out that Australia’s Covid-19 regulations are about keeping all Australians safe, including children. 

“Australia’s Covid-19 policies saved tens of thousands of lives – primarily before vaccines were available. Covid-19 can kill kids – and it continues to kill their parents and grandparents. How many deaths are acceptable?” one commenter asked.

Another user remarked that Sales’s suggestion that children weren’t being put first was “insulting”.

“My kid may have been okay but his disabled parents aren’t. I’m now more disabled thanks to long Covid-19. I can’t pick up my two-year-old,” they wrote.

“The accusation that parents haven’t put their kids first in this is frankly insulting. Their wellbeing is tied to ours.”

Another person added: “Blaming Covid-19 policies and not the pandemic itself is like blaming seat belts for car crash injuries.”

Many were also quick to point out schools were open during the entirety of lockdowns, but learning had to continue in a different format, and though home learning wasn’t ideal, it was better than letting the virus run rampant. 

Another tweeted: “Losing your parent or grandparent because they brought it home would have been pretty traumatic too.”

The RACP has now launched the Kids Covid Catch Up Campaign, which asks all political parties to commit to ensuring children’s health and wellbeing be at the top of their list for the pandemic recovery. 

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