- The Australian government has announced it will spend $2.4 billion to boost the national fight against coroanvirus.
- Unveiling the package on Wednesday, the government committed the money to the country’s hospitals, aged care and research facilities, as well as to further stockpile essential medicines.
- The money will be used to screen and treat new cases as well as try and prevent the virus spreading to the general public.
- Visit Business Insider Australia’s homepage for more stories.
Australian hospitals, aged care and research facilities, medical stockpiles and other primary healthcare providers will receive a $2.4 billion injection from the Federal Government in a renewed effort to contain the coronavirus outbreak.
Announcing the package on Wednesday, the Prime Minister said it was about “preventing and treating coronavirus in the coming weeks”, as it extends its travel ban to Italy.
“Australia isn’t immune but with this $2.4 billion boost we’re as well prepared as any country in the world,” Morrison told media. “Our medical experts have been preparing for an event like this for years and this is the next step up in Australia’s plan.”
This is what the money will be spent on.
The package will allocate more than $200 million to fund 100 dedicated popup respiratory clinics to test and isolate individuals who suspect they have symptoms. A further $58.7 million will be used to set up new temporary clinics to respond to emerging needs and screen fly-in-fly-out workers and those in remote areas.
$100 million will be spent boosting Medicare to provide phone and video health consultations to those in self-isolation or quarantine. It’ll also be made available to non-coronavirus patients who are at greater risk, including the elderly, Aboriginal and Torres Strait people aged over 50, newborns and new parents, the pregnant, and those with compromised immune systems. Available from 13 March, the service will be bulk-billed so as not to leave patients out of pocket.
A further $25 million will allow Australians to order their PBS prescriptions online and have them delivered, while new prescriptions will also soon be able to be issued online as well. The national triage helpline, on which medical advice can be obtained from health professionals, will also be extended to operate 24/7.
“The free-call hotline will advise people on the best course of action depending on their symptoms and risks. Medical staff will direct people to the nearest hospital or respiratory clinic, or advise them to stay home and self-monitor, or contact their GP,” the government said.
Another $30 million will be spent on a communications campaign designed to inform people on what they can do to contain the virus and remain healthy. It will be rolled out in up to 20 different languages.
The government has already announced $500 million in funding to help states and territories respond. This package will uncap the possible funding states and territories can receive, with the federal government splitting additional costs in coronavirus treatment 50/50.
A further $30 million will be allocated to researchers for vaccine, anti-viral, and respiratory health work.
A national response to the ongoing outbreak
A further $1.1 billion will be used to ensure doctors and health professionals have adequate supplies of things like medicines, masks and other protective and preventative equipment to fight the coronavirus. Greater supplies of antiviral and antibiotics are also being stockpiled to fight secondary infections that arise due to the outbreak.
Aged care support
More than $100 million will be used to bolster aged care workers capacity to deal with coronavirus, including training them in infection control and allocating additional support staff to assist in those facilities that require them.
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