Latest federal response to coronavirus

Paul Osborne
(Australian Associated Press)

 

Latest on coronavirus response

* A travel ban on Italians arriving in Australia will come into force from 6pm on Wednesday, adding to existing bans on residents of China, Iran and South Korea.

* $2.4 billion in federal funding has been set aside for the coronavirus health response.

* A wide range of respiratory clinics will be federally funded, from drive-through clinics in South Australia to hospital-based services.

* Experts say Australia is still in a “containment mode” but an epidemic is possible, lasting as short as eight weeks or as long as 14 or 16 weeks.

* A treatment for COVID-19 will take researchers at least a year to develop.

* The federal government will unveil an economic stimulus package on Thursday, focusing on business, families, pensioners and welfare recipients.

* State, territory and local government leaders will be asked at COAG in Sydney on Friday to come up with their own additional responses to boost the economy.

* Federal parliament will be asked next week to approve legislation to deal with the virus.

* Health authorities are closely watching the situation in the United States which was “a bit slow” in responding to the virus outbreak, according to Chief Medical Officer Brendan Murphy.

Government rolls out $2.4b virus response

Free phone consultations with GPs and pop-up clinics to help hospitals handle demand will form part of the government’s $2.4 billion coronavirus response.

It comes as Health Minister Greg Hunt says more than half Australia’s 100 cases had recovered and it was unlikely people could be infected twice.

The government released its response package on Tuesday night, promising further measures were on the way.

It will establish 100 pop-up clinics across Australia to divert people who may be infected away from hospitals.

From Friday, Australians will be able to completely bulk-bill phone hook-ups with GPs to diagnose coronavirus symptoms.

Mr Hunt said it won’t be necessary to introduce a country-wide travel ban like in Italy, although Qantas has slashed flights by nearly one quarter and more temporary schools closures are likely.

The government would also be reviewing its travel advice to Italy where more than 9000 people have contracted COVID-19 and 460 have died, Mr Hunt said on Tuesday.

There are an estimated 114,000 cases in 107 countries across the world, with 1000 recorded deaths.

Chief Medical Officer Brendan Murphy said it was highly unlikely people could catch the virus more than once.

“I think that’s a very important message to Australians,” Mr Hunt added.

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