The federal government says it will spend an extra $1.4 billion to help healthcare providers and the aged care sector deal with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Much of the funding - which is set to last until the end of December this year - is being directed towards aged care to maintain programs including on-site PCR testing and the supply of rapid antigen tests.

COVID-19 outbreaks are still a major problem in aged care settings, where there were 270 active outbreaks as of Friday last week.

Some of the money will also be provided to disability care and First Nations health services to cover personal protective equipment (PPE) and rapid antigen tests. 

A breakdown of the measures includes:

  • More than $840 million in additional funding for the Aged Care Support Program, including $35 million for ongoing on-site PCR testing in aged care

  • Over $115 million for the supply of rapid antigen tests to service providers and care recipients in high-risk settings including residential aged care facilities

  • Over $142 million in MBS items and rebates from 1 October 2022 for testing SARS-CoV-2 and other respiratory viruses, where appropriate

  • Over $48 million to extend around 100 GP-led Respiratory Clinics

  • Over $5 million to extend telehealth MBS items to prescribe lifesaving antivirals

  • $5.5 million in additional rebates for face-to-face GP visits for patients with COVID

  • Over $235 million to ensure PPE, treatments, rapid antigen tests and other supplies from the National Medical Stockpile for aged care, primary care, disability care and First Nations health services and frontline healthcare workers

  • Continued communication activities to ensure Australians can make informed choices about how to protect themselves and their communities from COVID-19

The federal government says these measures were due to expire on the 30th of September, and now will be extended until 31 December, 2022.