Australia adopting different methods to deal with COVID-19 following Christmas
Australia’s method of dealing with Covid-19 will change starting 1st January.
Health, Australians have been told to expect COVID-19 waves for at least two years
Mental health scheme to be scaled back.
Free PCR tests from private GPs will require a doctor’s referral.
Starting in January it will be more difficult for Australians to access a free PCR test, despite being constantly warned for the previous 2 years to expect new COVID-19 waves.
The federal government also plans to invest $2.8 million in a national COVID-19 management plan which will be implemented in 2023. The plan will introduce new methods and precautions to deal with the pandemic starting in January.
Moreover in order to reduce some of the burdens on the Australian health care system, Mark Butler, Australia’s Health Minister stated that the government will put major emphasis on providing aid to Australia’s most vulnerable sectors all the while moving away from “COVID exceptionalism” and instead trying to treat it to treating it ” like other respiratory viruses”.
Paul Kelly the Chief medical officer had already warned the public, regarding new COVID-19 variants that are expected to emerge by the end of 2025. However, at the same time, he assured the public that these future variants are unlikely to cause a death rate as high as the previous variants such as the Delta.
He has stated that “The severity of future waves may be milder, placing less pressure on the health system,” and that “This, combined with improved immunity and hybrid immunity from repeat infections and targeted vaccinations, would reduce the clinical impact and result in fewer Australians suffering severe illness and death.”
Mental health changes
During the first wave of COVID-19, many Australians were diagnosed with mental health disorders after the long lockdown period and hence were given access to 20 Medicare-subsidized psychologist appointments.
However after it was learned through an independent study that Australians with higher income were more likely to access the programs, it was revealed on Monday by Mr. Butler that the number of appointments will be reduced to its pre-pandemic level of 10 from 2023.
It was also stated by the health minister that those with lower income despite suffering over double the rate of mental distress had seen waitlists blow out.
He also said, “The evaluation reinforces the importance, going forward, of making sure that there is more equitable access to this important program for those groups who the evaluation found have been largely missing out,”.
At the same time Anne Ruston the opposition health spokeswoman stated that mental health support could “not be more important”, considering that the pressure from the increase in costs of living as well as daily necessities while the pandemic’s effects are still being felt. Hence she claimed to revoke the Coalition’s package would be “completely thoughtless”.
She said, “It is staggering that the Albanese Government has decided right now is a good time to rip away additional mental health support from Australians who have been relying on it,” and that “It is absolutely vital that vulnerable Australians have continued access to the psychology sessions they need.”
What to expect during covid
The free vaccinations which according to the plan are the method of reducing severe illnesses will continue to be available along with oral antiviral treatments being scaled up for eligible Australians.
Moreover from 1st January onwards, Australians will be required to have a referral from a “medical or nurse practitioner” in order to have access to Medicare-funded PCR tests.
It was also agreed by the Commonwealth to extend its 50% funding for state-run testing sites, where PCR tests will continue to be available free of cost. However, the sites for state-run sites have decreased following the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 and 2021.
The plan stated that “There is no public health requirement or recommendation for low-risk individuals to seek PCR testing,”.
Eligible Australians who have tested positive via a rapid antigen or PCR test
will also be provided with Antiviral treatments, which have played an increasingly prominent role in Australia’s pandemic response.
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