NSW has confirmed 1127 more local coronavirus cases, and two more deaths.
It is the lowest daily tally of infections in the state since September 1, when 1116 were reported.
The latest fatalities take NSW’s toll from its current outbreak to 186. They were a woman from her 80s and a man in his 50s, both from western Sydney.
Tuesday’s update was the first daily COVID briefing without any government representatives, as announced by Premier Gladys Berejiklian last Friday.
The apparent signs of levelling off in local infections in NSW offers the first signs of hope for the outbreak that began in mid-June – although authorities remain cautious.
“It’s too early to know if we’re flattening the curve, but we’re seeing, pleasingly so far, that cases haven’t been increasing as fast as they have been, but there may be an effect from the weekend,” Dr Jeremy McAnulty from NSW Health said.
“We’ll look to see what’s happening throughout the rest of this week to know how we’re going.”
Residents in NSW have been told to brace for a peak in COVID-19 case numbers this week, while the regional town of Yass returned to lockdown on Tuesday after one confirmed case there.
NSW is also inching closer to its target of 80 per cent of eligible people fully vaccinated. By Tuesday, 78.8 per cent of NSW residents 16 and over had had one dose of a vaccine, while 46.5 per cent had had both.
Dr McAnulty said it was too early to describe the recent run of days below 1500 cases as a trend.
“We’d like to see a few more days before we can have confidence about whether there is a trend. We have seen in the past, you know, three days of flattening and then it jumps up again. So we need to be cautious,” he said.
The Cumberland local government area, which is one of the 12 Sydney local government areas of concern, had had a particularly high jump in vaccinations, Dr McAnulty said.
“While it’s too early to say, it’s encouraging and provides a good message to the rest of us across the state that immunisation is the key to getting out of this outbreak,” he said.
Most COVID cases continue to be found in Sydney suburbs such as Auburn, Greenacre, Bankstown, Liverpool, Merrylands, Punchbowl, Riverwood, Yagoona, Condell Park and St Clair.
There have also been sewage detections of the virus in Young, where no cases have yet been reported.
Elsewhere, Ms Berejiklian was to meet the mayors from the 12 Sydney local governments areas with the toughest restrictions on Tuesday after previous requests to link up with the group were rejected.
Canterbury Bankstown Mayor Khal Asfour said he had been “trying for weeks to meet with her to raise issues ranging from curfews, to more vaccines and financial support”.
“Beaches are open but our pools are shut. Under the current health orders council pools are NOT allowed to open,” he posted on Facebook.
President of the Lebanese Muslim Association Samier Dandan said the “empty rhetoric of togetherness” was evident last weekend.
Deputy Premier John Barilaro will also meet with regional mayors.