NSW has notched up another record daily number of COVID-19 cases with 3763 people diagnosed, as testing clinics are inundated and Premier Dominic Perrottet prepares to meet national cabinet over the crisis.
The latest cases came from 151,443 tests in the 24 hours to 8pm on Tuesday.
They are a jump of 706 cases from the previous day’s record of 3057 cases, from 136,972 tests.
There were 302 people in hospital with the virus on Wednesday, up from 284. They include 40 in intensive care, up one on Tuesday.
The state’s vaccination rate remains the same with 94.9 per cent of people aged 16 and older having had one dose, while 93.4 per cent of people are fully jabbed.
Some 81.5 per cent of people aged 12-15 have had one dose of a vaccine and 78.1 per cent have had both doses.
Another two people have died from the virus.
Mr Perrottet will raise the issue of the booster shot interval when national cabinet meets on Wednesday.
Currently, boosters are due five months after a second dose, but NSW wants that moved forward to four months or less.
Mr Perrottet, who is resisting calls to reimpose a mandate for waring masks indoors, said booster shots were key to curbing the spread of Omicron.
Close to 40 vaccination venues will remain open for the shots over the holiday period.
Mr Perrottet acknowledged the long wait times for PCR tests in the days leading up to Christmas, with many anxious to get the all-clear to safely attend festive celebrations. Others need a negative result to travel interstate.
“I know it’s been a challenge, I know there are queues, that is unfortunately the way when there’s 140,000 tests occurring every single day,” he said on Tuesday.
Chief health officer Kerry Chant has urged asymptomatic people not to join the long queues at testing clinics, warning results could take up to 72 hours as labs are overwhelmed.
Health Minister Brad Hazzard said “tourism testing” was putting testing clinics under extreme pressure and delaying results. He has asked other states to reconsider their testing requirements.
Meanwhile, health authorities are pleading with Australian governments to bring back mask mandates and density limits.
Doherty Institute modelling prepared for national cabinet predicts up to 200,000 COVID cases a day by late January or early February unless restrictions are imposed.
On Wednesday, however, Prime Minister Scott Morrison played down the likelihood of that level of daily infections.
“[It’s an] extreme case scenario that assumes that nobody does anything, nobody gets boosters, there are no changes that take place, no one exercises commonsense,” he told the Seven Network.
Chief medical officer Paul Kelly labelled media reports of the Doherty Institute modelling as misleading. He stressed it was the worst case of all possible scenarios, and included assumptions such as the Omicron variant being as severe as Delta.
Other assumptions included a limited booster program, lack of hospital surge capacity and no changes to public health measures.
“None of these five assumptions represent the likely state of events, let alone all of them together,” Professor Kelly said.
“Presenting that scenario as the likely scenario that will occur is highly misleading.”