There are another 271 COVID cases in NSW – and no new fatalities – as residents are urged to get tested after six cases of the Omicron variant of the virus were confirmed in the state.
In the 24 hours to 8pm on Wednesday, 81,877 people were tested for the virus in NSW.
Just two weeks before more restrictions are lifted in NSW, particularly for the unvaccinated, the state is crawling towards its 95 per cent double does vaccination goal.
Some 94.6 per cent of people 16 years and older have had one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine while 92.6 per cent of adults are fully jabbed.
More than 81 per cent of teens aged 12-5 have had one shot of a vaccine while 76.8 per cent of them are fully vaccinated.
NSW Health said there were 144 virus patients in the state’s hospitals, including 24 in intensive care.
NSW has the highest vaccination rate of any state in Australia, bar the ACT. With more restrictions due to lift on December 15, it’s unlikely the emergence of the Omicron variant will derail that plan.
Premier Dominic Perrottet and Health Minister Brad Hazzard have expressed little appetite for further lockdowns.
“The challenge for us as a government and the other governments … is to strike a different balance to the ones we had in the past,” Mr Hazzard said on Wednesday.
Six people are confirmed to have the Omicron variant in NSW.
However, the jury is still out on whether the variant is more dangerous and could overwhelm hospital systems, or merely more transmissible and able to replace stronger variants already spreading in the community.
“Let’s shift the thinking … It’s not about the case numbers. It’s about the hospitalisations and the ICU presentations,” Mr Perrottet said.
At least two people with the variant have been in the community because they landed in Australia before quarantine rules were changed on Saturday.
A woman in her 30s and a man in his 40s infected with Omicron arrived on the same Qatar Airways flight from Doha a week ago.
The infected woman visited shops and fast-food outlets in Sydney, Parramatta and the Central Coast while the man visited a pharmacy in Liverpool on Monday.
Since the weekend, arrivals from eight countries of concern in southern Africa have gone into quarantine for two weeks.
All other international arrivals in NSW and Victoria must isolate for 72 hours at a nominated address until they return a negative PCR test.
They then have to isolate again while they wait for the results of a second test on their sixth day back in the country.