$1.1bn to support Australian COVID-19 health response
The Australian Government will invest more than $1.1 billion to extend its national COVID-19 health response and suppression strategy until 31 December 2021. The $1.1 billion is in addition to more than $22 billion spent towards these areas to date, including more than $6 billion to support the COVID-19 vaccine rollout.
This new commitment will ensure that key measures remain in place throughout 2021 to protect the community while vaccinations roll out over the coming months. The investment will extend the government’s partnership with states and territories to manage COVID-19, by sharing 50% of the cost of testing and treating people with COVID-19 through public hospitals.
The investment will also extend aged-care workforce surge support capability, and provide financial support for aged-care facilities affected by a COVID-19 outbreak to ensure the ongoing safety of senior Australians.
The investment will also help sustain telehealth services and care until 30 June 2021, with the government to review the ongoing role of COVID telehealth to support the pandemic in the short term, while planning the permanent post-pandemic telehealth arrangements with peak doctor groups. So far, more than 51 million telehealth services have been delivered to 13 million patients, with almost $2.6 billion in benefits paid.
The new investment will also provide support for rapid pathology testing and tracing, and for GP-led Respiratory Clinics, which have delivered more than one million consultations and 934,600 COVID-19 tests. Additionally, the investment will support the provision of culturally safe testing, treatment and evacuation preparedness in remote and isolated parts of the country, which has so far provided more than 15,500 point-of-care tests.
The investment will extend the provision of electronic prescription services, the delivery of Home Medicine Services across the country and the Continued Dispensing Emergency Measure. The investment will also extend the Beyond Blue Coronavirus Mental Wellbeing Support Service to meet ongoing demand for services as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, with continued support while COVID-19 restrictions remain and the COVID-19 vaccine program is implemented.
The government’s focus on containing the virus through testing, tracing, border and travel measures; building the capacity of the health system; and collaborating with states and territories has helped reduce the spread of COVID-19. These measures have supported the government’s response to COVID-19 outbreaks when they occurred; extending them will help ensure Australians remain COVID safe.
The government will continue to monitor the pandemic and the progress of the vaccination program, to keep Australians safe and the economy on the road to recovery.
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