GPs have been given the green light to visit people at home or in disability or aged care facilities, in a bid to fast-track the COVID-19 vaccine rollout.
So far 5.9 million vaccinations have been provided nationally, but there are still concerns many of the most vulnerable Australians have not been vaccinated.
Health Minister Greg Hunt told reporters on Monday the government had reached agreement with medical groups on a home visitation payment program with a specific Medicare item.
Doctors would be able to visit elderly, frail or immobile people in their homes or in residential facilities.
“That in-home visitation fee will exist to provide access for all of Australia’s 30,000 plus GPs to choose if they so wish to be part of the program,” Mr Hunt said.
The minister said all aged care facilities had now received a first dose visit and 94 per cent of facilities had received second dose visits.
Roving clinics were also being rolled out to aged care facilities to offer those who initially did not agree to jabs to receive them.
Victoria recorded two new local cases of COVID-19 on Monday, both children who are close contacts of previous cases and have not been in the community while infectious.
Meanwhile, residents of a townhouse complex in Melbourne’s CBD are being ordered to isolate for up to a fortnight after authorities established a link between two coronavirus cases who live there.
Victoria’s Health Minister Martin Foley confirmed a case reported on Saturday lives in the same Southbank townhouse complex as a worker from Arcare Maidstone, who earlier contracted the virus via the aged care facility.
Authorities believe the aged care worker infected the man, aged in his 30s, in a common area of the low-rise complex, prior to testing positive.
“What we’re trying to do is to run down the particular circumstances of that and make sure that if there are any chains of transmission out there, that we identify them early and cut them off,” he said.
Nurses will go door-to-door to ensure residents of the 100 townhouses are tested.
It comes as Prime Minister Scott Morrison has defended the nation’s strategy of aggressive COVID-19 suppression while overseas.
The prime minister attended the G7 summit in Cornwall in the UK as an observer and told reporters he would “rather be living in the arrangements we have in Australia than anywhere else in the world”.
Australia’s suppression strategy has kept the nation’s borders closed and seen states go into lockdown over a handful of cases.
Mr Morrison said that the UK, despite a high vaccination rate, was still recording high numbers of new cases.
“At this stage of the pandemic, it is not clear where it goes next … (given) the potential for new strains and other things to occur,” he said.
While Australians can’t travel overseas, Mr Morrison said they could “go to sporting games, or they can go to work, they can live in an economy that is bigger today than it was before”.
Meanwhile, there is growing optimism Queensland will be spared an outbreak after a couple arrived from Melbourne while they were infected.