New South Wales has reported 262 new locally acquired cases and five more virus-related deaths as State Premier Gladys Berejiklian extended lockdown restrictions for one week to the Newcastle and Upper Hunter regions.
The deaths, which take the total number of fatalities linked to this current outbreak to 21, include three people in their 60s, one person in their 70s and one person in their 80s.
Ms Berejiklian said none of the people who died were fully vaccinated while one person had received one dose in May.
The Premier said that no one who has died in NSW during the pandemic had received both doses of the vaccine and she urged people to get the jab as soon as possible.
The federal government will send NSW an extra 180,000 Pfizer doses over two weeks starting on August 9, with the vaccines earmarked for regional NSW after the state government redirected doses from these areas towards the Year 12 vaccine program.
Upper Hunter lockdown
State health officials revealed the virus had made its way to the Newcastle and Upper Hunter regions, which will go into lockdown for a minimum of seven days at 5pm on Thursday.
The same restrictions currently in force in Greater Sydney will be extended to the Newcastle, Lake Macquarie, Maitland, Port Stephens, Cessnock, Dungog, Singleton and Muswellbrook LGAs.
Chief health officer Dr Kerry Chant said officials believe people from Western Sydney may have escaped the lockdown and brought the virus with them to Newcastle. It is not yet known whether the people who left the city were granted an exemption to do so.
She said investigations into the regional cases were ongoing and had been linked to a legal gathering on Blacksmiths Beach on Friday night.
People who attended the event have so far been cooperative with contact tracers but authorities have yet to work out how the virus escaped the Sydney lockdown.
Two of the confirmed cases are students of Maitland Christian School in Metford, NSW, which was closed for cleaning on Thursday.
Morisset High School and Lake Munmorah Public have also been closed for cleaning after one student from Morriset and two from Lake Munmorah tested positive for the virus.
State health officials flagged as areas of concern many other venues in the Newcastle and Hunter region.
- Click here for an updated list of exposure sites in NSW
At least 72 cases infectious in the community
Of Thursday’s 262 new local cases, which came after the state reported 233 new cases on Wednesday, 129 have been linked to a known case or cluster while the source of infection for 133 cases is under investigation.
One hundred and ten cases were in isolation throughout their infectious period, but at least 72 cases were in the community for at least part of their infectious period.
The number of cases linked to the current outbreak has now risen to 4319.
Health officials said 290 cases had been admitted to hospital, including 51 in intensive care, 24 of whom require ventilation.
Residents are continuing to get tested in large numbers, with 106,954 COVID-19 tests reported to 8pm last night after 105,578 were reported the previous day.