Australian gov't ends COVID-19 isolation payments amid new wave warning

CANBERRA, July 1 (Xinhua) -- Australia's health minister has warned that coronavirus isolation requirements would remain in place despite the end of pandemic leave payments.

The Pandemic Leave Disaster Payment scheme ended as planned on Thursday, meaning Australians who miss work due to being in coronavirus quarantine are no longer entitled to a lump sum payment from the federal government.

(Photo: VCG)

Defending the move to end the scheme, Health Minister Mark Butler on Friday said the government could not afford to continue funding the payments, saying he "hoped" people would continue to isolate when required.

"We're going to have to start moving towards more normal programs that support the Australian community and people have been on notice about that for some time," he told Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) radio.

Butler echoed a warning from health authorities in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) on Wednesday that the country was facing a new wave of COVID-19 infections through July and August, urging as many people as possible to get their booster vaccines.

"Even if you caught COVID-19 in that big summer wave, where millions of Australians caught it, if you've only had two doses you are potentially susceptible to infection over coming months," he said.

Australia on Friday reported more than 30,000 new COVID-19 cases and more than 30 deaths.

It takes Australia's pandemic death toll past 9,900, the vast majority of which have occurred in 2022.

As of Thursday afternoon, a total of 8,132,210 cases of COVID-19 have been reported in Australia, according to the latest figures from the Department of Health.

There were 3,267 cases being treated in Australian hospitals including 98 in intensive care.