Hundreds of extra Australian Defence Force personnel will hit the ground in Victoria this week to help the state’s fight against COVID-19.
Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt has also backed the Victorian government’s decision to enforce the wearing of masks in Melbourne and Mitchell Shire from 11.59 p.m. on July 23.
He has announced further support for the state, including an extra 272 ADF personnel who will join 1200 already there and help with border control and contact tracing.
Additionally, the federal government is providing one million more masks for Victorian workers in aged care and disability centres, plus five mobile virus testing teams.
“Our support is open ended, as long as it takes and as much is needed,” Hunt told reporters on July 19.
Hunt said he, the prime minister and Chief Medical Officer Brendan Murphy all agreed the decision to implement mandatory mask-wearing was necessary.
“We are sorry that it has reached this point for all those who are affected,” Hunt said.
“But this is about saving lives and protecting lives.”
Victoria recorded 363 new coronavirus on Sunday and another three deaths, two men and a woman all in their 90s, bringing the state toll to 38 and the national figure to 122.
NSW confirmed 18 new cases in the 24 hours to 8pm on Saturday, with Hunt acknowledging the state was facing a “Herculean tracing task.”
NSW will from midnight on Tuesday further harden border restrictions with Victoria, tightening the permit criteria for southerners wanting to go north.
“The pandemic is not over and Victoria is seeing significant levels of community transmission in many areas of the state,” NSW Chief Health Officer Kerry Chant said.
An inquiry into Victoria’s bungled hotel quarantine program will begin on Monday, after it was revealed breaches by security guards at two Melbourne hotels led to COVID-19 outbreaks.