NSW posts 21,030 virus cases, 29 deaths

NSW has now recorded more than one million coronavirus cases.
NSW has now recorded more than one million coronavirus cases.

NSW has surpassed one million coronavirus cases as a leading health expert warns COVID-19 cases could spread widely during Australia Day events.

The state added 21,030 new infections to its COVID-19 caseload on Wednesday, made up of 8112 positive rapid tests, and 12,918 PCR results.

Some 7416 RAT results were from tests taken in the last seven days.

Half of those cases were added in the last two weeks and more than 90 per cent of them in the last two months after international travellers unknowingly brought the highly infectious Omicron variant into the country.

Two years after the first COVID-19 infections were recorded in Australia, NSW surpassed one million coronavirus cases according to data that includes RATs.

The deaths of 29 people were also reported in the 24 hours to 8pm on Tuesday, all aged above 50.

Six of those had received three doses of a COVID-19 vaccine, while 16 had received two doses, and seven were unvaccinated.

Premier Dominic Perrottet on Tuesday announced that mask-wearing density limits and dancing restrictions were here to stay for another month, scrapping the plan for more freedoms from Thursday.

He said extending the restrictions to February 28 was the "right approach" to help suppress the Omicron spread as children return to classrooms from next week.

"It's better to have the two-square-metre rule than no-square-metre rules and not having the confidence in the community to go out to restaurants and bars," Mr Perrottet said.

Under the continuing restrictions, hospitality venues including pubs, nightclubs and cafes will keep an indoor density limit, masks are required in all indoor settings except homes and QR code check-ins are compulsory at certain premises, including hospitality venues and shops.

The premier said the decision would reassure the public that bars, cafes and retail were safe to visit and would help drive economic activity.

Singing and dancing also remain banned in hospitality and entertainment venues except for performers.

Mr Perrottet said it was crucial that non-urgent elective surgery begins from mid-February after it was suspended again on January 8.

Some 2794 people are in hospital with the virus, with 175 in intensive care, and 75 requiring ventilation.

The number of people admitted to hospital on Wednesday dropped from the record high of 2943 on Tuesday, and ICU numbers were down from 183 on Tuesday.

As the state nears 94 per cent of adults having had two doses of the COVID-19 vaccination, NSW Health's Dr Christine Selvey encouraged those eligible for their third dose to get jabbed without delay.

"Vaccination is the best way to protect yourself, your loved ones and the community from the harmful effects of COVID-19," she said on Wednesday.

Dr Selvey implored anyone displaying COVID-19 symptoms, even if they had completed their one-week mandatory isolation period, to avoid leaving the home.

Meanwhile, businesses dealing with the effects of the Omicron wave have been promised fresh support in the coming week.

Australian Associated Press