Free telehealth services and pop-up testing clinics will be set up as part of the federal government’s $2.4 billion health response to the coronavirus outbreak.
Free telehealth services and pop-up testing clinics will be set up as part of the federal government's $2.4 billion health response to the coronavirus outbreak.
The government released the details of its health package last night, and promised further measures are on the way.
One-off payments are also to be put forward for pensioners and some welfare recipients, 9News understands.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison also confirmed there would be measures to help struggling small businesses keep trainees.
This will apply to 120,000 apprentices, and the government will pay 50 per cent of their wage until at least September.
The measure is mostly for businesses with fewer than 20 employees, and will cost about $1.3 billion.
The overall package is set to include more than $10 billion, but Prime Minister Scott Morrison has indicated he is open to putting more money on the table.
From Friday, Australians will be able to bulk-bill phone hook-ups with GPs to diagnose coronavirus symptoms.
Health authorities would also establish up to 100 "pop-up" clinics, with each expected to handle 75 patients a day.
The government hopes the clinics will divert people with coronavirus away from hospitals and two of the country's peak medical bodies will help identify suitable locations.
Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt said there had been 106 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Australia.
More than half of those have since been cleared.
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"We have been able to contain the first round of cases from China and clear all of the people," Mr Hunt told Today.
"We have been able to contain all of those cases that were brought back as part of the quarantine on Diamond Princess.
"Now we are managing the next phase of it. This is about making sure we are prepared.
"We have a plan which is now being implemented and of any country in the world, as the World Health Organisation recognised, we are as well prepared for this."
The funding announcement was welcomed by the AMA.
Speaking in Darwin, president Tony Bartone said the funding will relieve pressure on already stressed hospitals ahead of the expected pandemic.
"It's a really good start, this package addresses a number of the issues that we've highlighted," Dr Bartone said.
"We're all ready to roll up our sleeves."
Dr Bartone said it remained important for people to maintain good coughing etiquette, to wash hands well with soap and water, and to practice social distancing.
The problem seen in Italy of hospitals completely overcrowded may be avoided in Australia, he said.
"If we did nothing to prepare ourselves, if we just put our head in the sand and said 'ah well, there's nothing we can do', that will happen," he said.
"We can never be 110 percent sure that it won't, but the more we do with containment and preparation, the more we can do to manage things."
Three Australians have died from coronavirus and states and territories are setting up specialist clinics as the federal government looks to combine information into a smartphone app.
READ MORE: How to wash your hands to prevent coronavirus
Australia's Chief Medical Officer Brendan Murphy said there was some confusion about who needed to be tested, adding it was only returned travellers from overseas with symptoms like a cough or sore throat.
Sydney is the worst-hit city for rates of infection.
Yesterday, six more people were diagnosed with COVID-19 in NSW, bringing the total number of cases in the state to 61.
NSW Health said one of the new patients, a woman in her 30s, is a relative of a Sydney aged care facility resident who died from coronavirus.
Across the world there are an estimated 114,000 cases in 107 countries, with 1000 recorded deaths.
The government in coming days is expected to announce private sector involvement in providing pathology services and new advice on the testing of healthcare workers.
Meanwhile, Qantas has slashed the capacity of its international flights by almost one quarter for the next six months due to the virus' impact, a decision that will ground 38 planes.
- Reported with AAP
Source: 9News https://www.9news.com.au/national/coronavirus-in-australia-clinics-and-telehealth-services-in-government-package/251d3570-a103-4c6f-b3b1-b4d7b49d0803