ACT Chief Minister Statement: Canberrans must stay at home unless essential

Released 29/03/2020

The ACT Government is acting now to boost the Territory's frontline health services and ensure we are prepared for an increase in patients requiring life-saving treatment as a result of COVID-19.

This includes the construction and operation of a temporary COVID-19 Emergency Department (ED) at the Canberra Hospital. This facility will expand the Territory's ED capacity and enhance our ability to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The temporary emergency department will be dedicated to patients with moderate to severe cases of COVID-19 and will significantly increase acute services capability during a time of heightened demand on our health care system.

The ACT Government is working with Aspen Medical to finalise details of the facility, including the model of care and location. Input into the design and operation of the facility has been sought from experts at the World Health Organisation, as well as international clinical experts.

The delivery of this facility is just one of example of how the ACT Government is preparing for COVID-19. Additional funding of $126 million has been allocated to ensure our health services are well resourced and prepared to respond to the pandemic.

Further measures the Government is funding to prepare for the spread of COVID-19 include;

  • Health facility infrastructure, flexing the bed base in Canberra Health Services by an additional 131 beds, and supporting Calvary Public Hospital to deliver dedicated COVID-19 wards and expanded ICU capacity;
  • Working closely with the Territory's private hospitals to identify all available capacity across the health system to deliver a coordinated response;
  • Personal protective equipment and other medical supplies for our doctors and nurses;
  • Establishment of respiratory clinics and additional equipment;
  • A 24/7 Radiography service;
  • The Emergency Operations Centre; and
  • Enhanced operational capacity for health protection services including contact tracing and COVID-19 testing.

This pandemic will have a profound impact on our community, and it will continue to affect the health and wellbeing of all Canberrans as we all adjust to physical distancing and 'stay at home' directions and guidelines.

In addition to the increased investment the ACT Government has provided to Lifeline, we will allocate further financial support to the Perinatal Wellbeing Centre to ensure there is adequate support for young families during this period. Further support will also be provided to Menslink.

We have seen examples across the world of the significant impact the virus can have on a health system. The ACT Government's top priority is to prepare and respond to the spread of COVID-19 in our community, ensuring we are doing everything we can to protect the health of Canberrans and our healthcare workforce.

Canberrans can be assured that we will continue to invest in key health services to meet the demand arising from COVID-19.

- Statement ends -

Section: Andrew Barr, MLA | Media Releases

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