Anthony Albanese says COVID-19 is not over, approving $760 million in new funding to help states and territories deal with the pandemic.
The announcement came after the Prime Minister chaired his first national cabinet meeting with state and territory leaders on Friday.
Meanwhile, more than 60 additional COVID-related deaths have been reported so far on Saturday, with NSW and Victoria contributing 54 between them.
Federal funding agreements related to the pandemic were set to expire in September, but will now be extended for three months, Albanese said.
“(The pandemic) is clearly not over yet and it would be very brave to suggest that you could do that projection,” he told reporters after Friday’s meeting.
There are around 3,000 Australians in hospital due to the virus, he said, which is why the federal government has pledged to extend support until December 31.
New South Wales Premier Dominic Perrottet said with every hospital in Australia under pressure from COVID, the extra money was welcome.
Elsewhere, Victorian Health Minister Martin Foley said changes to the state’s COVID-19 rules would come into effect next weekend.
Positive cases will be allowed to leave their homes to drive members of their household directly to work or education and masks will be discarded at airports.
Three-dose vaccination mandates for workers will remain in vulnerable settings like elderly care, but lifted in other sectors like education, food distribution and quarantine accommodation.
Rules requiring others to work from home if not double dose will also be scrapped, although workplaces can still set their own vaccination policies.
Visitor caps in care facilities will be lifted, with residents able to see as many people as they want as long as they return a negative rapid antigen test that day.
The Prime Minister and Premiers also agreed on Friday to look at further reform of the healthcare system, including links between GPs and hospitals, as well as practical ways to get elderly residents and participants out of the NDIS from the hospital and in a more appropriate setting.
Work is also underway to determine the final locations of the Medicare urgent care clinics pledged in the federal election.
LATEST 24-HOUR COVID-19 DATA:
NSW: 8,119 cases, 25 deaths, 1,344 in hospital including 45 in intensive care
Tas: 850 cases, one death, 31 in hospital including two in intensive care
ACT: 865 cases, no deaths, 86 in hospital including two in intensive care
Vic: 6,601 cases, 29 deaths, 419 in hospital including 25 in intensive care
Queensland: 4,016 cases, eight deaths, 428 in hospital, eight in intensive care
Australian Associated Press