NSW has set a new record for its deadliest day of the COVID-19 pandemic, with 21 people dead and another 34,759 cases reported.
The grim milestone comes only two days after the previous record – the 18 deaths reported Monday – and as the number of people hospitalised with the virus continues to rise.
Some 2242 people are in hospital with COVID-19 across NSW, 175 of them in intensive care.
The cases were diagnosed from 134,411 PCR tests on Tuesday, meaning one in four people tested returned a positive result.
However, authorities suspect the true number of infections is higher, with NSW residents still unable to report results from rapid tests.
The government is expected to finally launch a feature to report RAT results through the ServiceNSW app and website on Wednesday.
But Opposition Leader Chris Minns has criticised the government for how long it has taken.
“Senior health bureaucrats are flying blind because they don’t have the true picture of the Omicron variant and its transmission in the community as a result of these changes not being made available,” he said on Tuesday.
NSW Health has repeatedly warned the daily case numbers, which have surpassed several records in recent weeks, are not giving a full picture of the spread of the virus in the community.
All other states and territories – aside from the ACT and Western Australia – have beaten NSW to provide a way for residents to register their RAT results.
WA lifted a ban on the tests only on Monday.
“We’ve been told for years now that ServiceNSW is the best functioning app of any jurisdiction in the country, and yet it doesn’t seem to be able to perform this basic function,” Mr Minns said.
Meanwhile, Premier Dominic Perrottet has flagged the possibility of the state providing RAT tests by handing out kits to parents at their children’s schools.
The government could also give people access to tests through pharmacies under a Dine & Discover-style voucher system, The Daily Telegraph reported on Wednesday.
Elsewhere, restrictions on music festivals came into force on Tuesday requiring organisers to ensure no one sings or dances at the events aside from performers.
Organisers of the Grapevine Gathering music and wine festival in the Hunter Valley said they were “extremely heartbroken” to cancel the event four days before it was due to begin.
The Tamworth Country Music Festival was cancelled last week due to the impact of restrictions.
The festivals are the sort of event NSW Health has previously advised people to take a RAT before attending, but the tests are scarce.
Unions want tests made available free to essential workers, with the Transport Workers Union calling on MPs to give up their free tests and donate them to workers.