THE ACT government is giving Canberra’s COVID-19 health response and services a $63 million boost.
Nineteen million dollars, plus $4.5million capital, will go towards rolling out the recently-approved Pfizer vaccine, set to begin distribution by the end of February.
The rest of the funding will support the costs of case investigation, contact tracing, medical specialists, quarantine processes, policy, testing centres and education.
While Canberra has seen no community transmission since March, Chief Minister Andrew Barr said the pandemic does not have an end date and that the situation can change quickly, both in the ACT and interstate.
“We must have the capability to surge quickly if the need arises,” he said.
ACT Health Minister Rachel Stephen-Smith also announced that $6.5 million has been allocated to fund additional services at Calvary Public Hospital Bruce, $908,000 will fund four beds in Palliative Care ACT’s “Leo’s Place” respite hub, and funding of $16.6 million, provisioned in the August 2020 Economic and Fiscal update, will be released to undertake “critical” electrical building services infrastructure upgrades to Building 10 at Canberra Hospital, where the primary COVID-19 testing laboratory in the ACT is based.
Mr Barr also said that the ACT government is willing to commit further funding to the covid response should they deem it necessary.
“We are ready to invest more throughout the rollout of the vaccine if required. Amounts will depend on joint funding from the Commonwealth and how the situation develops, but we will provide more detail as the next few months unfold,” said Mr Barr.