NSW has posted its worst day for coronavirus fatalities yet, with another 15 deaths on Wednesday.
There were also another 863 local cases, the same number as Tuesday.
NSW’s toll from its Delta outbreak has risen to 331, with the deaths of eight men and seven women aged from their 40s to their 90s. They included two people who died at home.
Premier Gladys Berejiklian said case numbers were beginning to fall across greater Sydney, including the hardest-hit areas in the city’s west and south-west. But there is a worrying jump in the regions, particularly in Illawarra and Shoalhaven.
Chief health officer Kerry Chant said the drop across Sydney was pleasing, but “they are starting from a high point”. Suburbs that are still of concern include Greenacre, Merrylands, Guildford, Yagoona, Blacktown and Minto.
“We see increasing cases in the Illawarra and Shoalhaven, around the
Wollongong and Shellharbour area and also we are concerned about Mount Druitt and Auburn. The key message is we also are seeing regional outbreaks,” she said.
NSW will emerge from lockdown in a fortnight after almost four months of stay-at-home orders for large parts of the state.
Also from October 11, two fully vaccinated people a day will again be able to visit people in aged care – something that has been off-limits for about three months.
“This is welcome news and we ask people to exercise a degree of caution. If you have symptoms or you are not well, don’t do it,” Ms Berejiklian said.
She said the state’s hospitalisation and intensive care units were “doing OK” compared to modelling – and called for caution in the days until October 11.
“We are all looking forward to 11 October. It is a day when we will be able to do all those things we haven’t been able to do for a long time,” she said.
“Between 11 October and when we hit 80 per cent double dose, we need to exercise that extra degree of caution to make sure we don’t see a surge in cases or hospitalisation beyond what we can manage.”
As of Wednesday, 86.2 per cent of eligible NSW residents were partially vaccinated, while 61.7 per cent have had both doses.