Australian gov’t announces 941 mln USD in additional COVID funding

CANBERRA, Sept. 19 (Xinhua) — The Australian government on Monday extended funding for coronavirus testing and protocols in high-risk settings.

Health and Aged Care Minister Mark Butler said the federal government would spend an additional 1.4 billion Australian dollars (941 million US dollars) over the next three months on preventing the spread of COVID-19 in aged and disability care and hospitals.

Federal funding for coronavirus testing and protocols was due to end on Sept. 30, but Butler said the extension would ensure vulnerable Australians remain protected.

“This action will provide Australians with effective testing, medical care and treatments to protect themselves and those most vulnerable in the community,” he said.

“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.”

According to the Department of Health of the Australian government, average COVID-19 infections in Australia are still running at more than 7,000 each day.

The majority of the additional funding – 840 million AUD (565 million US dollars) – will go towards the Aged Care Support Program, including 35 million AUD (23.5 million US dollars) on onsite polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing at aged care facilities.

A further 235 million AUD (158 million USD) will boost the National Medical Stockpile to guarantee supply of personal protection equipment (PPE) and testing equipment for aged care, primary care, disability care and First Nations health services and frontline healthcare workers.

More than 100 million AUD (67.2 million USD) will be spent on rapid antigen tests (RATs) for workers and care recipients over the next three months.

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