Federal Nationals Regional Health Minister Mark Coulton says $52 million for rural COVID-19 aeromedical retrievals will help support our communities.

It comes as the Government secures three million additional doses of seasonal influenza vaccines to protect Australians from the flu, in an effort to take the usual load off the health system during the pandemic.

The Australian Government has also received 58 million protective face masks that will help provide essential protection for frontline health workers at risk of COVID-19.

The protective face masks have arrived ahead of the scheduled delivery date of the end of April, and in greater numbers than the 54 million previously predicted. They will allow for additional allocations to be released from the National Medical Stockpile to healthcare workers.

Mr Coulton, making the aeromedical announcement at the Royal Flying Doctors Service (RFDS) base in Dubbo, said the Nationals in Government’s investment of close to $53 million will increase Australia’s aeromedical capacity to evacuate COVID-19 cases in remote areas.

“This package will increase the capacity to evacuate early COVID-19 cases in remote areas and enable a more effective response if an outbreak occurs,” Mr Coulton said.

“COVID-19 is affecting every Australian no matter where they live, and we’re putting in place measures that will support regional Australians to get through this pandemic.

“This package will boost the ability to provide medical evacuations for patients in remote and rural areas across Australia by up to 50 per cent.”

Mr Coulton said of the $52.8 million, funding is provided for the RFDS to help:
• Evacuate initial COVID-19 cases;
• Evacuate suspected COVID-19 cases;
• Deliver fly-in General Practitioner Respiratory Clinics, including testing, for a broader outbreak; and
• Pre-position and replenish personal protective equipment for frontline medical staff.