NSW has posted another grim record, with 390 more local COVID cases on Friday.
There were also two more fatalities, one a woman in her 40s.
She was unvaccinated and diagnosed with the virus on August 7. She died at home in south-western Sydney.
The other was a man in his late 90s in the NSW Hunter region. He was vaccinated, but in palliative care.
Friday’s fatalities take the toll from NSW worsening coronavirus outbreak to at least 38.
“Behind every single statistic is a loved one, a family, and many carers,” Premier Gladys Berejiklian said on Friday.
“We extend our heartfelt thoughts to all of them.”
It is the highest daily tally NSW has reported yet for any day in the pandemic. There have now been 6874 local cases since the current outbreak began in mid-June.
Of Friday’s cases, 101 spent at least part of their infectious period in the community. The isolation status of a further 191 is still to be determined.
Greater Sydney and surrounding regions are in lockdown until at least August 28, as are multiple parts of regional NSW, as health authorities battle to contain an outbreak of the virulent Delta strain.
Ms Berejiklian said Blacktown and Mount Druitt in western Sydney had become areas of particular concern for health authorities, with a rise in cases.
There has been some stabilisation in Fairfield, while Canterbury-Bankstown is still reporting the most cases – and there was another grim warning.
“I anticipate, given the large number of cases we have had in the last few days, that unfortunately this trend will continue for at least the next few days,” she said.
“It means all of us have to work harder to make sure we start and follow the rules.”
Almost 20 people linked to a special needs school in Sydney’s north have caught COVID-19, including students with severe autism.
NSW Health has uncovered 18 cases associated with the Giant Steps special education school in Gladesville including three staff, seven students and eight family members.
Health authorities also remain concerned about the spread of the virus into regional NSW, especially the state’s west. There are now 22 COVID infections in western NSW.
Marianne Gale from NSW Health said the situation in regional NSW was “evolving”.
“We are concerned about western NSW, and that’s why we are asking the residents of western NSW and those LGAs that have been named – where stay-at home-orders are in place – to really follow the public health advice,” she said.
“There are considerable efforts going on locally from NSW Health and partners, including the federal government to support the response in western NSW. We are particularly aware that we see a large proportion of the population in that part of NSW being Aboriginal communities.”
There were also five more cases in the Hunter-New England area.
Wastewater detections of the virus in Bathurst, Parkes and Bourke are also being monitored.
‘On target’ to 80 per cent vaccinated
Ms Berejiklian said the state is on track to hit its vaccination target by mid-November, with the aim to start “living with COVID” once it is reached.
She said authorities are expecting 8000-10,000 people to get vaccinated on Sunday for a ‘Super Sunday’ drive, on top of “so many” who have already come forward.
“And we know with the extra 100,000 authorised workers between the age of 16 and 39 coming forward next week, there is a high demand for people who want to get vaccinated,” she said.
The premier had earlier stated that lockdown restrictions would ease once the state reached six million first doses administered.
But she softened that language on Friday, curbing expectations for how vastly the rules would change.
“I don’t want to give the impression that it will be freedom all round,” she said.
“It will not be freedom all round until it is 70 per cent double doses, at least, and 80 per cent is when we learn to live with COVID.
“Living with COVID is very different to what we’re doing now.”
ACT confirms more cases
Two new cases of coronavirus have been detected in the nation’s capital, bringing the total number of infections in the territory to six.
It comes as residents spend their first day in lockdown since the beginning of the pandemic.
ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr on Friday revealed that testing centres had been overwhelmed by residents anxious to know if they had contracted the virus.
He said while he understood that people were worried, testing needed to be reserved for those more at risk – including anyone who had been contacted by health authorities.
“The priority right now is to test the close contacts and anyone who has symptoms,” Mr Barr said.
“If you do not have symptoms and you are not an identified close contact you do not need to be tested today.”
Authorities are tracing more than 3900 people who have been identified as close or casual contacts, including 1862 who are confirmed close contacts.
Mr Barr urged all other Canberrans to stay home and wait for testing centres to be ramped up in coming days.
Mr Barr was also disappointed by the panic buying that had occurred on Thursday, reiterating that there is no need to stock up.
“There is no need to panic, the shops that provide essential services are open every day,” he said.