WA boosts COVID-19 funding in budget

The West Australian government will allocate an extra $1.6 billion in COVID-19 response and recovery funds in this week’s state budget.

The extra cash will take the state’s total pandemic-related spending to $11.2 billion and will cover a suite of measures including $635 million for the supply of free rapid antigen tests.

The spending promise came on Sunday as South Australia launched a $2 million advertising campaign to boost coronavirus vaccination rates, particularly for the third dose where the take-up in SA has stalled.

Only about 73 per cent of those eligible for a third dose have been jabbed, despite figures showing the death rates for those triple dosed sitting at 60.7 per 100,000 people compared to 93.6 for those double dosed and 146.5 for the unvaccinated.

Third dose rates are even worse in Queensland, at about 63 per cent, while in NSW it is 66.5 per cent and in Victoria 71.5 per cent.

SA Chief Public Health Officer Nicola Spurrier said the data clearly showed the chance of dying with the Omicron variant of COVID-19 was very low among people who were triple dosed.

“The science is absolutely crystal clear – it is not a two-dose vaccine schedule, it’s a three-dose vaccine schedule,” she said.

“I’m very keen to stop talking about boosters, because it’s not a booster. The course is actually three doses for Omicron.”

Royal Adelaide Hospital intensive care unit doctor Mark Plummer said the unit was dealing constantly with people who were seriously sick with the virus but were not fully vaccinated.

“What we are getting sick and tired of is having to speak with families at the bedside and dealing with the regret of not having been fully vaccinated,” he said.

“It’s a shocking situation. The patients are on a ventilator and they can’t speak for themselves, they’re unconscious.

“So that grief is held by their family and that regret is held by their family if they haven’t been fully vaccinated.”

In Thursday’s WA budget, the government will allocate an extra $537 million to health services, including medical equipment and the ongoing vaccine rollout, while $237 million will be used to support businesses, including grants to small companies.

There will also be $42.5 million to cover ventilation strategies in schools along with enhanced cleaning.

“WA’s COVID experience has been unique and we owe our success to our safe management of COVID-19, which has enabled Western Australians to live largely free of restrictions, which is in stark contrast to the experience of the eastern states in the past two years,” Premier Mark McGowan said.

“Despite the global pandemic not being over, WA secured a soft landing as planned by putting the health and safety of the community first with responsible border policies and achieving world-leading vaccination rates.

“Our safe and cautious handling of the pandemic has kept businesses in operation, people in jobs.

“As the engine room of the Australian economy, we kept the nation going at the height of the pandemic.”


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