Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has called in the military to help curb the increasing outbreak of COVID-19 in Australia’s southern state.
Australian Defence Force (ADF) personnel will deploy from June 26 to areas around Victoria after the premier requested support from the ADF to contain the escalating outbreak of COVID-19, the disease caused by the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, commonly known as novel coronavirus.
The Department of Defence said in a media release on June 25 that 850 ADF members would provide support to hotel quarantine monitoring while around 200 personnel will provide logistical and medical support for public testing initiatives.
Minister for Defence Senator Linda Reynolds said: “I’m pleased we’re able to rapidly increase our assistance to help Victoria respond to its current COVID-19 circumstances.”
“The COVID-19 pandemic requires a proactive national response and Defence is well postured to provide scalable support to states and territories,” Reynolds said.
At present the ADF has 676 military personnel deployed around Australia to help state and territories with border controls, contact tracing, planning support teams, and supporting law enforcement agencies with mandatory quarantine arrangements at airports.
In a media statement released on June 25, Andrews said the ADF personnel would provide planning and logistics support to the state government, including the transportation of pathology samples interstate if necessary.
The focus will be on the clusters in hotspot suburbs.
Andrews said: “We’re asking locals in these areas—particularly if you have symptoms—please come forward and get tested. See it as your civic duty. See it as your contribution to keeping your local area and our whole community safe.”
Victoria is currently at the epicenter of an outbreak of the CCP virus. Over the past nine days cases of COVID-19 have increased rapidly with the Victoria Department of Health and Human Services noting that Victoria had 33 new cases on June 24, taking the state’s total number of active cases to 163.
Victorian authorities are also holding 30 people in hotel quarantine that have tested positive for COVID-19, and at least 33 staff working at quarantine hotels have become infected.
Speaking on ABC Breakfast radio on June 25, the president of the Australian Medical Association Dr. Tony Bartone said the military aid would ensure that Victoria got “additional logistics support at that front line” before the situation leads to a second wave.
Noting that the introduction of the military sent a strong message that this is a serious situation, Bartone said that the AMA had warned from the beginning that as restrictions were relaxed “we expected to see sporadic, localised outbreaks.”
“It has been a long number of months in terms of dealing with [the virus], and complacency, you might say, has possibly started to set in,” said Bartone.
“The virus is still there, and it needs to be treated with due caution, due respect. And this is not over for, indeed, many, many months to come until we effectively and definitely get a vaccine to assist us with prevention.”
Explaining that the reproduction rate of the CCP virus, or novel coronavirus, is increasing again, Bartone said Australia needs “to really drive that down, we need to get on top of this before; indeed, it becomes anything more and leads us into a second wave.”
The Victorian Premier also requested aid from Queensland, New South Wales, Tasmania, and South Australia to increase the number of COVID-19 tests the state can process from 18,000 a day to 25,000.
A spokesman for Prime Minister Scott Morrison told AAP that the federal health and defence departments were working with Emergency Management Australia “to expedite a request for assistance from Victoria.”