The Australian government on Friday agreed to extend its coronavirus health funding model until the end of 2022 amid the country’s ongoing battle against the pandemic.
Earlier in the day, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese chaired his first meeting of the national cabinet where he addressed health funding with state and territory leaders, reports Xinhua news agency.
After the meeting, he announced that the 50/50 split in hospital funding between the states and territories and the federal government, which was due to end in September, will continue until the end of the year.
The measure will cost the federal government an additional A$760 million ($533 million).
Amid rising coronavirus cases and an influenza resurgence, state and territory leaders united to demand the agreement be extended.
Albanese said the funding would help get people out of emergency departments who do not need to be there.
“The decision that we made today to extend the funding is a recognition that there are currently about 3,000 people in hospital as a result of Covid-19. It is still having an impact,” he told reporters.
“What it’s about is a recognition that our hospital system at the moment has people who should be looked after by their local GP (General Practitioner), but GPs just unavailable.”
The lack of nurses and health professionals in the aged care system means that many people who should be either looked after at home or looked after as aged care residents end up in the hospital system as well, putting further pressure on the system, he said.
Australia on Friday reported more than 30,000 new Covid-19 cases and over 50 deaths.
According to the Department of Health data, there were 2,818 Covid-19 cases being treated in hospitals, including 97 in intensive care.
Since the onset of the pandemic in early 2020, Australia has reported a total of 7,754,075 Covid-19 cases and 9,269 deaths.