Thousands of gowns, masks, gloves and goggles will be sent to GP clinics in the ski fields of NSW and Victoria this week, as the snow season gets underway under the shadow of a coronavirus outbreak.
The 2020 ski season officially began on Monday after weeks of delay due to the pandemic.
And with thousands expected to hit the slopes in coming weeks, Health Minister Greg Hunt said it was vital general practitioners could respond "quickly and effectively" to potential cases of COVID-19, in order to suppress potential outbreaks of the virus.
"We need to continue to have the right controls in place to test more people, trace those who test positive and respond to local outbreaks when they occur," Mr Hunt said.
To help, regional medical centres in the area will receive more than 13,000 surgical and P2 masks; 4160 protective gowns; 25,400 protective gloves; and more than 580 sets of protective goggles. MOre equipment will be released from the national stockpile if needed.
Regional Health Minister Mark Coulton said the opening of the ski season was a "welcome milestone" but Australians must remain vigilant to the threat of COVID-19.
"The delivery of PPE to clinics near the ski fields is a last line of defence. It is not a replacement for physical distancing and good hygiene practices. If visitors feel unwell, no matter how mild, they must stay home or in their accommodation," Mr Coulton said
"Australians heading to the snow are still required to practise the 1.5 metre physical distancing rule, good hygiene and follow limits for public gatherings. Everyone is encouraged to download the COVIDSafe app."
Ski resorts are operating at a limited capacity, only offering pre-purchased lift tickets and capping the number of patrons.
Victoria has recorded a spike in cases over the past week, including 33 on Thursday.
Victorian health authorities have identified multiple areas of Melbourne where there have been large levels of community transmission of COVID-19, including Moreland, Brimbank, Hume, Casey, Cardinia and Darebin, and state leaders have urged Victorians to avoid interstate travel.
NSW Deputy Premier John Barilaro said on Tuesday the Snowy Mountains were an area of "major concern" due to Victoria's rising caseload, with its school holidays just a week away.