An additional 1000 members of the Australian Defence Force will be deployed to Victoria as part of the state’s response to the latest coronavirus outbreaks.
Health minister Greg Hunt on Monday said the extra personnel would assist “on the containment front and on the capacity front”.
“They come on top of the approximately 350 that we currently have in place, and those 350 include approximately 120 supporting police at checkpoints across the lockdown zones, 188 that have working in supporting the testing regime,” he said.
“We also have a variety of supports in terms of police assistance and logistics assistance in different areas of the Victorian response.”
Hunt said some troops would be helping out with checkpoints, isolation, and testing. However, Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said the state was still figuring out where to place the extra personnel.
“We’re in constant discussions whether it be commonwealth public servants, ADF staff, anybody that can assist us regardless of what uniform they wear,” he said.
“In terms of the deployment, how quickly the 1000 staff will get here, that’s still being worked through by people like the public health team, my department and others, and the chief [police] commissioner has a direct role in that.”
The federal government recently agreed to deploy 800 Commonwealth workers to Melbourne, including 100 managers to support community engagement in hotspots, 500 staff to form public engagement and door-knocking teams, and 200 clinical staff to undertake testing at fixed sites.
Differing from Hunt’s announcement, Major General Paul Kenny — who is the acting commander of Defence’s COVID-19 Taskforce — said the ADF currently has 160 personnel supporting testing sites across Melbourne.
There are also 100 personnel supporting Victoria Police checkpoints. Kenny on Monday also approved another 75 personnel to undertake that role, bringing the number to 175 personnel assisting police.
“We also have a number of ADF personnel assisting Victorian authorities with their planning. In particular, the Victorian police, the state control centre, and Emergency Management Victoria, and the Department of Health and Human Services,” he said.
“We are currently working very closely with the Victorian government and their authorities, to finalise the arrangement for the deployment of these 1000 personnel.”
Kenny also added that there are roughly 500 personnel supporting the NSW police at border control points, and 60 personnel supporting South Australian police.
Victoria on Monday recorded 177 new cases of coronavirus, 25 of which are linked to known outbreaks. One case was detected in hotel quarantine, and 151 are under investigation.
Hunt also announced 5 million face masks would be released from the national medical stockpile to support Victoria, with 4 million to go to the aged and home care sector, and 1 million to go to primary healthcare providers.
The state has conducted 1,125,414 COVID-19 tests since the pandemic began.