NSW authorities are racing to track down the source of an emerging Omicron variant cluster at a western Sydney school, as COVID-19 case numbers begin to spike again.
The state reported another 325 new cases of the coronavirus on Saturday, and one death, 12 fewer than the number reported on Friday, which was the highest tally in six weeks.
There have been a total of 11 Omicron cases confirmed with genomic testing in NSW since the first two cases were reported on Sunday, but only six of them are linked to the eight countries of concern.
Meanwhile, a concerning cluster of cases at Regents Park Christian School in western Sydney has grown to 13, with three already confirmed positive for Omicron. Testing results are still to come for the other 10.
The first student confirmed did not have any known link to southern Africa and urgent investigations are searching for the source of the cluster, NSW Health said on Friday evening.
Better than expected
On Friday, NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard said the cases at the school “could well be an on-NSW-soil transmission”.
Despite the rise in case numbers, Premier Dominic Perrottet is urging the public to instead focus on hospitalisations and ICU presentations.
“We would have expected those (case) numbers to be much higher in circumstances where we opened up our state,” he said on Friday.
The jury is still out on the severity of the Omicron variant, and whether it causes a more severe disease that could overwhelm hospital systems or is merely more transmissible but potentially less dangerous.
There are currently 139 COVID-19 cases admitted to hospital across the state, with 25 people in intensive care.
The state’s vaccination rate remained at 94.6 per cent first-dose coverage but double-dose numbers increased slightly to 92.7 per cent in the 24 hours to 8pm on Friday.