Victoria has requested logistical support from the Australian Defence Force and help from other states as it tries to tackle an increasing number of coronavirus infections in the community.
- Prime Minister Scott Morrison and the Victorian Government are in discussions about deploying more ADF resources
- New South Wales, Tasmania, South Australia and Queensland have accepted Victoria’s requests for support
- Victoria is ramping up testing and community engagement in coronavirus hotspot areas
Overnight the state recorded 20 new cases of COVID-19, following a week of increased community transmission that left health officials “worried”.
The ABC understands the Victorian Government has requested 300 ADF personnel, mainly medicos, for logistical support like helping with hotel quarantine and working in hotspot areas.
New South Wales, Tasmania, South Australia and Queensland have accepted Victoria’s requests for support, although the full details of what resources were being sent by each state were not clear.
“Victoria has requested the assistance of other states as we continue to ramp up testing and community awareness in key coronavirus hot spots,” a Victorian Government spokesperson said.
Victoria’s requests for resources come as health authorities roll out more testing sites in six local government areas identified as coronavirus hotspots, and try to engage with multicultural communities in those areas.
A spokesman for the Prime Minister said ADF personnel were already on the ground in Victoria, and there were talks about whether more could be deployed.
“The Prime Minister has been in regular discussions with Premier Andrews and the Minister for Defence about the possible further deployment of Commonwealth resources, including the ADF and their expertise, to assist Victoria to manage the spread of COVID-19,” he said.
“The Commonwealth Departments of Defence and Health are working with Emergency Management Australia to expedite a request for assistance from Victoria after the Victorian State Control Team determines what support it requires.”
There have been two separate coronavirus clusters linked to quarantine hotels in Melbourne — the Stamford Plaza Hotel and Rydges on Swanston Hotel.
Late last week Victoria’s Deputy Chief Health Officer Annaliese van Diemen said possible social distancing breaches by security guards working at the Stamford Plaza Hotel, which housed returned travellers in mandatory quarantine, could have contributed to the outbreak.
Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt said the nation’s Chief Medical Officer Brendan Murphy had taken the issue of hotel quarantine to the medical expert panel in recent days.