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Aus plans to bring int'l healthcare workers to fight Covid battle

Canberra, Oct 9 (IANS) The Australian government on Saturday revealed a plan to bring thousands of international healthcare workers into the country to relieve pressure on the healthcare system amid the ongoing battle against the third wave of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Under the plan, which was announced by Health Minister Greg Hunt, 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, reports Xinhua news agency.

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 local media.

"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.

The new cases increased the overall tally to 125,080, while the death toll stood at 1,421.

According to the latest data released by the Department of Health, 81.5 per cent of Australians aged 16 and older have received at least one Covid-19 vaccine dose and 60.2 per cent are fully vaccinated.