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Government pledges $1.4b more for COVID-19 response

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The Albanese government will spend a further $1.4 billion for COVID-19 response, with the majority of the funding going to aged care providers.

The money will be used for continuing a range of response measures, which were due to expire on 30 September but will be extended until the end of the year.

The package includes financial support for aged care staff as well as funding for COVID-19 tests, protective equipment and medication.

More than 3000 people have died from the virus in Australian aged care facilities this year, almost triple the number of deaths that occurred in the first two years of the pandemic.

The government has been under pressure to respond to the mounting toll with more support for aged care centres.

Over $840 million from the funding will go towards the government’s aged care support program, while more than $235 million will be earmarked for protective equipment, tests and other supplies from the national medical stockpile for aged care, disability care and other services.

Health Minister Mark Butler said the funding would provide people with effective testing, medical care and treatments to protect the most vulnerable in the community.

“These investments also provide ongoing support and protection for our frontline health and aged care workers, and people living in residential aged care homes, as well as those people supporting the most vulnerable to severe illness from COVID‑19,” he said.

The announcement comes as public health experts express optimism that the pandemic may be nearing its end, with global deaths due to the virus in decline.

Last week, Australia recorded 279 COVID-related deaths and more than 40,000 new cases.

The full list of COVID-19 response measures include:

  • More than $840 million in additional funding for the Aged Care Support Program, including $35 million for ongoing on‑site PCR testing in aged care
  • Over $115 million for the supply of rapid antigen tests to service providers and care recipients in high-risk settings including residential aged care facilities
  • Over $142 million in MBS items and rebates from 1 October 2022 for testing SARS-CoV-2 and other respiratory viruses, where appropriate
  • Over $48 million to extend around 100 GP-led Respiratory Clinics
  • Over $5 million to extend telehealth MBS items to prescribe lifesaving antivirals
  • $5.5 million in additional rebates for face-to-face GP visits for patients with COVID
  • Over $235 million to ensure PPE, treatments, rapid antigen tests and other supplies from the National Medical Stockpile for aged care, primary care, disability care and First Nations health services and frontline healthcare workers, and
  • Continued communication activities to ensure Australians can make informed choices about how to protect themselves and their communities from COVID‑19.

 

Content from AAP. Note: Content has been edited for style and length.

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