Councils in Australia’s NSW Get $395 Million, State Virus Toll Rises to 36

Australian Associated Press is an Australian news agency.
April 25, 2020Updated: April 25, 2020

New South Wales’s CCP virus death toll now stands at 36 after a sixth resident died at a western Sydney aged care home where almost 50 people have been infected.

The New South Wales government, meanwhile, has provided almost $400 million (US$256 million) to local councils across the state for community infrastructure projects and wage bill relief.

The 83-year-old man, who resided at Newmarch House in Caddens, died on the morning of April 25, operator Anglicare Sydney said.

This follows the death of a 96-year-old woman on April 24, a woman in her late 70s on April 23 and earlier fatalities of a woman and two men all aged in their 90s.

The facility is the state’s largest ongoing cluster, with some 31 of the almost 100 residents having been infected as well as 17 staff members.

An aged care worker at a healthcare facility in the Blue Mountains also tested positive for coronavirus, one of 12 new cases confirmed in NSW on April 25.

The worker from Catholic Healthcare Bodington had not been at the aged care home within 48 hours of showing symptoms, Channel 7 reported.

NSW Health said no other positive cases had been confirmed at the facility.

The total number of confirmed cases in NSW is 2,994, more than 44 percent of Australia’s total number of cases at 6,695. Some 19 people are in intensive care in NSW.

The majority of NSW confirmed cases have been found in people aged 20 to 29, with 635 positive tests making up more than 21 percent of the state’s total cases.

As part of the council stimulus package, the NSW government on Sunday pledged an additional $250 million in low-cost loans to spur community infrastructure investment and also more than $110 million on a job-retention fund for council workers.

The “Council Job Retention Allowance” of $1,500 per fortnight would be paid for up to three months to eligible staff in the NSW local government sector.

Council workers were not granted access to the federal government’s JobKeeper program.

“Our state’s 128 local councils are a critical part of the NSW economy, especially in many regional and rural towns where they are sometimes the largest employer,” NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet said in a statement on Sunday.

“This about keeping people in jobs which will allow councils to continue to provide essential services in their communities throughout the ongoing COVID-19 crisis and bounce back faster once we come out the other side.”

The peak body for NSW councils, Local Government NSW, welcomed the announcement, saying councils were eager to contribute to the post-coronavirus recovery.

“As the only state government to have provided councils with economic support of this magnitude, the NSW government has ensured our state will lead the economic recovery from COVID-19m,” president Linda Scott said in a statement on Sunday.