News Coronavirus COVID claims 20 more lives in NSW as 34,660 cases identified
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COVID claims 20 more lives in NSW as 34,660 cases identified

St Vincent's hospital
Testing confirms COVID cases in numbers unthinkable a year ago, but authorities remain upbeat about the pandemic's progress. Photo: AAP
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NSW has posted 34,660 new COVID-19 cases along with a further 20 virus-related deaths.

While more people are dying with coronavirus in the state than at any time during the pandemic authorities are confident the worst is near and believe the crisis is in fact tracking better than expected.

However NSW hospitals are now caring for 2650 COVID-19 patients. Of these, 191 are in intensive care beds. At the depths of the Delta outbreak last September, there were 244 COVID-infected people in ICUs.

While there has been some readjustment in the recording of deaths due to coronial inquest findings, the toll continues to rise, with 157 fatalities recorded over the past eight days.

Some 93.8 per cent of all eligible adults in NSW are now double dosed, while 25.4 per cent have also received a booster jab. Of children aged 5-11, 11.5 per cent are now single vaccinated.

Better than expected

Worst-case scenario modelling suggested 6000 people would be hospitalised at the apex of the NSW outbreak, with 10 per cent of those patients in intensive care.

However even best-case predictions paint a grimmer picture than reality. They allowed for almost 3160 people in care.

Premier Dominic Perrottet says the state has “a difficult few weeks ahead” but things not currently being as bad as feared is “very reassuring and encouraging”.

Chief Health Officer Kerry Chant says about half the state’s population could eventually become infected but some would be asymptomatic and may never even know they’d contracted the virus.

Meanwhile the state government will extend rental relief for small businesses amid the Omicron outbreak.

Rental relief for small business

Treasurer Matt Kean on Saturday announced the scheme would continue until March 13.

“Small business is the engine room of our economy and we need to make sure we support impacted businesses through this latest Omicron wave,” he said in a statement.

“With staff shortages and reduced foot traffic, many businesses are struggling at the moment but the ability to negotiate rent will give them a buffer so they can keep the lights on now and recover more quickly.”

Commercial and retail tenants will qualify for the relief if they have an annual turnover of less than $5 million and continue to meet eligibility criteria for since-discontinued JobSaver or micro-business grant programs.

Landlords will also have more time to apply for land tax relief, with applications extended until February 28 for those eligible.

-AAP