More than 1500 new locally transmitted COVID-19 cases have been reported in NSW – another record high – and four deaths.
Announcing 1533 cases on Saturday morning, Health Minister Brad Hazzard stressed that vaccinate rates were the “good news”.
“NSW residents are still getting out there and getting vaccinated at a great rate of speed,” he told reporters.
“There were almost 130,000 vaccines yesterday administered in NSW.”
Among the deaths announced on Saturday are a man in his 60s who died at his home in western Sydney, and a southwest Sydney woman in her 80s, a western Sydney man in his 50s and a southwest Sydney man in his 70s who all died in hospital.
None were vaccinated.
Outbreaks in western NSW also continue to spread, with 22 new cases detected in Dubbo, nine in Bourke and three each in Bathurst and Orange.
Nine new cases were also recorded in Wilcannia, in the state’s far west.
It comes after NSW on Friday reported the highest daily death toll the state has seen in the pandemic.
Twelve people died in the 24 hours to 8pm on Thursday, including a mother of four in her 30s who died at home a day after being tested for the virus.
The death toll for the current NSW outbreak is 123.
Meanwhile NSW government ministers and parliamentary secretaries will boycott sittings of the parliament’s upper house, essentially thwarting them, over concerns any meetings could be a super spreading event.
Chief Health Officer Kerry Chant wrote to the president of the Legislative Council and later met with representatives of all political parties in the upper house to note the significant risk of transmission in parliament and the risk of seeding in regional communities when MPs and staff return home.
The government position was that sittings should be deferred, as done for the lower house, but the president of the Legislative Council Matthew Mason Cox determined it was appropriate for the council to sit, Leader of the House Damien Tudehope said.
“At a time when we’re asking everyone in NSW to make sacrifices to keep us all safe, it is unprincipled and dangerous for politicians to reject the health advice to pursue their own political agenda,” he said in a statement.
“It is important for all community leaders to set an example, therefore ministers and parliamentary secretaries will not resume sitting until the health advice provides that it is safe to do so.”
According to Legislative Council rules, the upper house cannot meet unless a minister is present.
Opposition MPs have argued the sittings are essential to allow scrutiny of the government response to the current outbreak.
Greater Sydney has now been locked down for ten weeks and the rest of the state for almost three weeks.
The stay-at-home orders are in place for at least another week.