Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt and Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly spoke today with the latest information on the evolving COVID-19 situation across the country.
Minister Hunt said that Australia is now in the next phase of its response to the Omicron variant and wave.
In the past week, close to 2 million COVID-vaccinations have been administered across Australia, with the fastest three-day vaccination period recorded in the past week. A total of 5.33 million boosters have been administered since the program launched. Australia at present is seeing a 95 per cent vaccination rate nationwide.
This phase will see a three-stage plan begin across the nations health sectors, which has come under extreme pressure in the past weeks. Today, Victoria called a Code Brown
The program was created in anticipation of a surge in cases numbers and hospitalisation numbers. The program was established in late March 2020, at the inception of the pandemic.
The private hospital agreement also means that private hospitals could be called upon to take public patients as COVID-19 surges through states and places pressure on the health system. A similar initiative is already being undertaken in South Australia.
This three-stage plan includes:
- Supporting state hospital systems by activating the private hospitals agreement.
- Activating the national stockpile of medical supplies to support the states and territories reporting shortages of PPE.
- A further 10 million units of PPE and health products will be distributed across the aged care sector and residential facilities struggling across the country.
“We have been preparing for workforce pressure for some time…this is the first time it has come under pressure to the extent of what we have seen it in the last week or two,” said CMO Paul Kelly.
The CMO continued to state that Australia is close to the peak of the Omicron wave and that COVID-linked deaths will lag behind reported cases.
1. Supporting hospital systems with private hospital agreement:
Minister Hunt said this agreement was established and designed for supporting state hospitals systems at any time where they may have significant numbers. The private hospitals’ agreement will see up to 57,000 nurses and over 100,000 staff made available to Omicron affected areas around the country.
“It’s a workforce which is skilled, planned, appropriate and available,” said Hunt. “The states and territories will work directly to activate those. We have activated it in the Commonwealth end.”
Activate national medical stockpile:
Speaking on activating the national medical stockpile, Minister Hunt stated that his “advice is that all states and territories are well prepared in relation to PPE.” The federal government has provided 160 million units of PPE across Australia in the past two years.
“The national medical stockpile is well supplied and well supported. We are making this available if needed this includes 10m RATS available to all states and territories,” said Hunt.
While the national medical stockpile will be activated, Hunt was confident that states and territories will not see shortages in medical supplies.
PPE to Aged Care sectors
As Australia’s aged care sector continues to see outbreaks in all states and territories, the national response program will deliver 10 million units of PPE and supplies to those affected facilities.
The federal government so far has supplied 5.6 million RATs and another 100,000 to Aged Care today – taking its total to 5.7 million.
“There is a further 3 million to come, but out of those 10 million units [of health resources], there are 3 million RATS, 2 million n95 masks, 2 million surgical masks and up to 1 million each of gloves gowns and goggles. “its important additional protection to be made available to our aged care sector so far.”
Speaking on the potential addition of the fourth vaccine to Australia, Novavax, Hunt said that the TGA has reached advanced stages of consideration of the protein-based vaccine.
Hunt continued to say that he hopes the potential approval of Australia’s promised 53M Novavax doses will see a percentage of the population who remain unvaccinated receive the crucial shots. The Health Minister further said that any surplus vaccines will be shared amongst countries that need it.
The remarks come after CMO Paul Kelly stated on the weekend that the THA is days awayreaching its final decision on the Novavax vaccine.
If you have any COVID-19 symptoms, no matter how mild, please seek testing as soon as possible.
Find your nearest testing site at www.sahealth.sa.gov.au/COVIDtesting.
More information is available at www.sahealth.sa.gov.au/COVIDcontacttracing.
For more information visit https://www.covid-19.sa.gov.au/ or call the SA COVID-19 Information Line on 1800 253 787.