Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has unveiled a $2.4 billion AUD health package and $17.6 billion economic plan to protect Australians from the COVID-19 coronavirus.
The health package will enhance the ability of the health system — including primary care, aged care, hospitals and research centres — to effectively diagnose and treat infected patients. At the same time, the economic stimulus package will aim to keep Australians in jobs and help small businesses continue to run in an effort to prevent a fall into recession.
Out of the health bundle, $100 million will help fund a new Medicare system that will allow people in isolation to obtain health appointments over the phone. Just over $100 million will likewise be used to train aged care workers in infection control.
Funding of $1.1 billion will be used to up the number of masks, surgical attire and hand sanitizers available for health workers and patients. Thirty million will be allocated toward a national communication campaign aimed at providing practical advice on how to slow the spread of the virus and for respiratory medicine research, respectively.
"Australia isn’t immune, but with this $2.4 billion boost we’re as well prepared as any country in the world,” Morrison said in a press release. “This package is about preventing and treating coronavirus in the coming weeks. Our government, alongside the country’s leading medical experts, is working around the clock to ensure we have the right tools, information and resources to keep Australians safe.”
The government is also investing over $206 million to create 100 new pop-up coronavirus testing clinics across the country.
Our $17.6 billion economic plan in response to #coronavirus is about keeping Australians in jobs, keeping businesses in business and supporting households to ensure we bounce back stronger on the other side. See details ➡ https://t.co/uNQb2qNBYZpic.twitter.com/ra6IXRI4A5— Scott Morrison (@ScottMorrisonMP) March 12, 2020
The economic stimulus package has been broken down into four parts.
According to Morrison, up to 6.5 million individuals and 3.5 million businesses could be aided as the package works to support business investment and provide “cash flow assistance” of between $2,000 and $25,000 to small and medium-sized businesses.
Further, over 6 million welfare recipients — including pensioners, veterans and job seekers — will receive a single cash injection of $750. One billion will go toward supporting the sectors, regions and communities that are “disproportionately affected” by the virus’ economic impacts.
"Just as we have acted decisively to protect the health of the Australian people, based on the best evidence and medical advice, our support package responds to the economic challenges presented by this pandemic in a timely, proportionate and targeted way,” Morrison said. “Our plan will back Australian households with a stimulus payment to boost growth, bolster domestic confidence and consumption, reduce cash flow pressures for businesses and support new investments to lift productivity.”
As of March 13, 156 Australians have been infected and three people have died from coronavirus.
Just days after announcing the health and economic package, Morrison banned all public gatherings of over 500 people. Travel bans are also in place for visitors from China, Iran, South Korea and Italy.
On Friday, Global Citizen launched a new campaign to support the fight against coronavirus. The campaign needs your voice to help call on leaders of the G20 countries to ensure that the World Health Organisation has the financing it needs to adequately respond to the virus and all future health crises.
You can learn more and start taking action at our Stand Together to Beat Coronavirus campaign page.