New Clinics, Video Messages And More Bulk Billing: Government Unveils $2.4 Billion Coronavirus Package

The Morrison government has launched a $2.4 billion health plan to tackle coronavirus that will establish up to 100 pop-up clinics that will cater for close to 75 patients a day.

The $205 million clinics will test people who are concerned they have the symptoms of the disease, including a dry cough, itchy throat, and fever.

The respiratory clinics aim to divert people with mild or moderate symptoms away from emergency departments and GPs, ensuring there is less pressure on the health sector.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison told reporters on Wednesday the Government was ensuring Australia had the resources it needed to fight coronavirus.



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“Australia isn’t immune but with this $2.4 billion boost we’re as well prepared as any country in the world,” the Prime Minister said.

“Our medical experts have been preparing for an event like this for years and this is the next step up in Australia’s plan."

Pop-up clinics will be staffed by doctors and nurses who will see up to 75 people a day over a six month period.

Image: AAP.

As part of the plan, a $100 million Medicare 'item' will also be introduced on Friday to allow those in self-isolation and quarantine to access bulk-billed health services.

Health consultation services by telephone, Facetime or Skype will also be available from March 13 under Medicare for people who are at greater risk of developing the virus.

This includes those aged over 70, people with chronic diseases, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged over 50, people who are immunocompromised, pregnant people and new parents with babies.

Minister for Health Greg Hunt said the Government was boosting the capacity of the health system to effectively assess, diagnose and treat people with COVID-19.



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"We are ensuring people can access essential care in a way that reduces their potential exposure to infection. This includes support for telehealth, primary care and medical supplies,” Minister Hunt said on Wednesday.

The Government will provide $25 million to fund home medicines services for patients in isolation to have their PBS prescriptions filled online or remotely, and have the medicines delivered to their home.

Funding of $1.1 billion will go towards supplying face masks, and other protective equipment such as surgical gowns, goggles and hand sanitiser for health professionals.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison speaks at a press conference at Parliament House in Canberra. Image: AAP

The government has issued funding boost of $101.2 million for senior Australians to educate and train aged care workers and to hire extra nurses and aged care workers for both residential and home care.

Additional aged care staff will be available for deployment to facilities as needed, where an urgent health response is required and to provide extra support for staff and training.

A $30 million educational campaign will begin this week, rolled out in up to 20 languages across television, radio, social media, and on public transport and inside medical practice waiting rooms.

The Government will also allocate $30 million from the Medical Research Future Fund for vaccine, anti-viral and respiratory medicine research.

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