The Australian government has revealed a plan to bring thousands of international healthcare workers into the country to relieve pressure on the healthcare system amid the battle against the third wave of COVID-19 infections.
Under the plan, which was announced by Health Minister Greg Hunt on Saturday, October 9, about 2,000 doctors and nurses mainly from Britain and Ireland will be exempted from strict travel restrictions to take up jobs in Australia as the country's international border is expected to re-open in November.
Hunt described it as a "one-off boost" for the health system after he rejected a plea from state and territory governments for more hospital funding to cope with a surge in coronavirus cases.
"This will be a one-off boost to provide additional support. The Commonwealth is committed to it and the states are working constructively with us on it," he told the Nine Network. "These are people coming from all around the world. That free flow of people is very important. Some may be joining families, some may be moving for a new life. That is an ordinary part of life and it is up to individuals to be able to choose, subject to a nation's needs."
On Saturday morning, Australia reported a new record 2,570 new locally-acquired COVID-19 cases, a second day in a row with more than 2,500 new infections recorded nationwide.
New South Wales (NSW), Australia's most populous state with Sydney as the capital city, recorded 580 new local cases and 11 deaths.
Victoria, the second-most populous state with Melbourne as the capital city, reported a further 1,965 new local cases and five deaths. The Australian Capital Territory (ACT) recorded 25 new cases - its fewest in recent days - as it prepares to exit lockdown on Friday.
According to the latest data released by the Department of Health, 81.5 percent of Australians aged 16 and older have received at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose and 60.2 percent are fully vaccinated.