NSW has reported another grim record virus day, with 1431 more infections and 12 deaths as Premier Gladys Berejiklian warns it faces two more even darker weeks.
Friday’s update topped the previous record case tally – reported only on Monday – by more than 140 infections.
It is also NSW’s single-worst day for virus deaths since the outbreak began in mid-June. Its toll since then has risen to 119.
The deaths reported on Friday include a woman in her 30s, who died at home. The source of her COVID infection is still under investigation.
The others are four men in their 70s, one in his 80s and another in his 90s, as well as one woman in her 60s, three in their 70s and another in her 80s.
Ms Berejiklian warned there were likely to be more gut-wrenching days to come for NSW residents.
“The best health advice I have is that we anticipate a peak in cases in the next fortnight,” she said.
“But, as I have said, it is not the number of cases we need to be focusing on but how many of those cases end up in our intensive care wards and hospitals, and how many people we have vaccinated as quickly as possible.”
The number of patients in hospital also continues to rise. NSW hospitals have 979 COVID cases admitted, including 160 in intensive care. Of those in ICU, 127 are not vaccinated.
Friday’s update came as some small freedoms began to return to NSW residents. Those who live in Sydney’s hotspot local government areas can now exercise without restrictions between 5am-9pm each day, and COVID-safe weddings have also returned.
Ms Berejiklian said NSW was “in the middle of a storm” but hospitals would be able to cope with the expected jump in cases in coming weeks.
“The case numbers are numbers we haven’t seen before in Australia, [but] even where we are at and given how much our systems have been holding up, I think … in a few months’ time when [people] look back, they will appreciate our contact tracers, our systems and also the way we open up and how safe that will be,” she said.
“We always knew September and October will be the most challenging [months] because we are dealing with extra hospitalisations and extra ICU hospitalisations. But we’re also going through both the exciting but challenging time of opening up.”
She declined to release modelling how many patients were expected in NSW hospitals in coming weeks. But more details of how the health system is being bolstered will be released next week.
Also on Friday, the ACT reported another 18 infections. Thirteen are linked to current outbreaks.