NSW has reported 1262 new locally acquired cases of COVID-19 and seven deaths, including a man in his 20s.
Premier Gladys Berejiklian said there had been some stabilisation of case numbers in the local government areas of concern but the virus was “picking up pace” in certain suburbs.
“We can’t afford to let our guard down,” the Premier told reporters at the last press conference of its kind on Sunday.
The daily 11am updates will from Monday be replaced by a video from NSW Health to communicate the new case numbers and concerns of the day.
The seven deaths reported in the 24 hours to 8pm on Saturday include a man in his 20s from western Sydney and six people from south-western Sydney in their 40s, 50s, 70s and 80s.
Chief Health Officer Kerry Chant said the man in his 20s was unvaccinated and had significant underlying health conditions.
“When we talk about the fact that people are dying whether they are vaccinated or have underlying health conditions, it really is to highlight the fact that there are still many people in the community who are elderly and not vaccinated, who have underlying health conditions,” Dr Chant said.
“However, I just want to make the point, that while you are likely to have more severe COVID if you are older and have underlying health conditions, even previously healthy people of all ages can get severe disease and die.”
Peak infections looming
There are currently 1206 COVID-19 patients in NSW in hospital, with 220 in intensive care and 92 ventilated.
Cases are expected to peak in the next week, putting significant strain on hospitals and ambulances.
By midnight on Friday 78.1 per cent of the over-16 population had received a first dose COVID-19 vaccine, and 45.6 per cent were fully vaccinated.
Meanwhile state and Federal opposition leaders have criticised the plan to scrap the daily live-streamed briefings weeks before the COVID-19 crisis is expected to peak in NSW.
State opposition leader Chris Minns says it is not the time to cut the number of briefings as the community needs accountability while parliament is unable to sit.
“We can’t deny the fact that we are entering one of the most difficult and worrying periods of the entire pandemic,” Mr Minns said on Saturday.
Federal Labor Leader Anthony Albanese, who lives in Sydney’s inner west, also criticised the move.
Albo slams Premier’s vanish act
“I do find it jarring that on the day in which nine deaths were announced and record numbers of infections, accountability went backwards, not forwards,” he told reporters on Saturday.
But Mr Hazzard defended the government’s decision as he said health authorities needed “clear air” to think through the COVID-19 response.
“There is a massive team of people getting ready, drawing in all the information, we then are in here probably three or four hours beforehand,” he said.
“That time is taken out from the time we need to do the things you want us to do.”
“We will still have press conferences … they might not be absolutely every day.”
Elsewhere, thousands of NSW residents across the state’s northeast and southwest enjoyed their second day of freedom in weeks as stay-at-home restrictions lifted on Saturday for regional centres of Coffs Harbour, Wagga Wagga and Albury.
Masks are mandatory at indoor public venues, but hospitality, retail and sporting spots have all been cleared to reopen with restrictions while rules for indoor and outdoor gatherings have been relaxed with limits.