News State NSW News Regional COVID numbers rise in NSW: 236 new cases and three deaths
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Regional COVID numbers rise in NSW: 236 new cases and three deaths

Bondi's Tea gardens Hotel has been identified at the centre of COVID cluster. Photo: Tea Garden
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There are 236 new local COVID-19 infections across NSW and a further three people have died from the virus.

Deaths across the state since the start of the pandemic now stand at 569. Some 343 patients remain in hospitals, with 81 of them in intensive care.

In Sydney, at least 10 people either acquired the virus at Bondi’s Tea Gardens Hotel last Saturday or attended while infectious, NSW Health says.

The pub has been referred to the regulator for its COVID-safety compliance to be reviewed.

Health officials say more than 77,000 COVID-19 tests were conducted in the 24 hours to 8pm on Friday, while 93.5 per cent of NSW residents aged 16 or over have now received at least one vaccine dose.

The state’s full vaccination percentage stands at 87 per cent.

New cases meanwhile continue to be detected in the regions as NSW prepares to open up travel between metropolitan Sydney and beyond.

Of 268 fresh cases reported on Friday, more than half were detected outside Greater Sydney, prompting Premier Dominic Perrottet to defend a decision delaying until Monday travel for holidays and recreation between the areas.

“That was an unpopular decision for many people in Sydney but it was the right decision for regional NSW,” he said.

In the 24 hours to 8pm on Thursday there were 54 positive tests returned in the Hunter New England Local Health District, 52 in the Murrumbidgee area and 13 on the state’s Mid North Coast, with additional cases in the Illawarra Shoalhaven region and Southern NSW.

A pilot program for rapid antigen home testing kits in public schools will begin in Albury, near the Victorian border, next week.

The kits will be handed out by schools for use at home by staff and students, who have to undergo a test twice a week as part of community surveillance.

The kits will also be used for close contact testing to identify positive cases on school sites.

However, anyone who gets a positive result will have to get a standard test straight away to confirm the diagnosis.

-AAP