The Australian government has extended military support for the Covid-hit aged care sector.
On Monday, Defence Minister Richard Marles announced that the Australian Defence Force (ADF) deployment into aged care facilities has been extended until the end of September, reports Xinhua news agency.
It comes as more than 900 aged care centres are combating Covid-19 outbreaks, with more than 6,000 residents and 3,000 staff currently infected.
“It’s important that we need to be doing everything we can to meet the challenge,” Marles told Australian Broadcasting Corporation television.
“It’s not just extending the military support to aged care, it’s actually increasing it up to 250 personnel through until the end of September.”
According to the Aged and Community Care Providers Association, more than 2,000 aged care residents have died with Covid-19 in 2022 alone, accounting for more than 20 per cent of Australia’s total deaths since the start of the pandemic.
The decision reflects the seriousness of the Omicron variant’s high community transmission rates and the challenges faced by aged care homes as a result, said Marles.
The ADF has provided clinical and non-clinical support to aged care homes hit by Covid-19 related staffing shortages since February this year.
Aged Care Minister Anika Wells said the sector was struggling to find enough staff.
“We simply cannot find the staff,” she said on Monday.
“People are doing double shifts. People are working every single day without breaking, which is an incredibly stressful environment.”
Australia on Monday reported more than 30,000 new Covid-19 cases and over 10 deaths.
The country’s total pandemic death toll surpassed 11,000 over the weekend, only about three weeks after hitting 10,000.