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NSW outbreak stabilises as workers return

NSW COVID-19 cases
Daily COVID-19 cases in NSW have surged to 20,960 as the new Omicron sub-variant spreads rapidly. Photo: AAP
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NSW has confirmed another 10,698 coronavirus cases and 31 deaths amid signs of a stabilising outbreak as more health staff return to work.

Hospitalisations fell to 2494 on Friday, while intensive care admissions were steady at 160.

Case numbers and hospitalisations are plateauing in NSW, and more health staff are back on the job. But tracking the spread of the virus in the community is still a challenge.

Healthcare settings still have a “red” status, the highest of the three in the state’s COVID-19 risk monitoring dashboard, which is updated weekly.

But “available metrics continue to point towards a stabilisation of the outbreak”.

There remains “some uncertainty around levels of case ascertainment”.

As of Monday, 3034 health staff were in isolation after potential exposure to the virus. That was down from 4523 the previous week.

Fewer people were admitted to NSW hospitals with the virus. However, those who eventually found themselves in intensive care units were staying longer, spending an average of more than a week in ICU.

There were close to 33,000 fewer positive cases recorded in the week up to Monday compared to the previous week.

Case numbers have subsided from peaks in mid-January. But it is still anticipated the return of children to classrooms could cause case numbers to rise again, as the government warned in the lead-up to the school return this week.

Parents have been urged to get their children vaccinated and boosters for themselves if they have not done so already.

Some 41.6 per cent of primary school-aged children in NSW have received at least one dose of the vaccine while 42.8 per cent of the state has received a booster (or top-up for immunocompromised people).

The opposition has taken aim at what it says is a lagging booster rate, calling for it to be mandated that essential workers receive a third dose to be considered fully vaccinated and that they get a half day of leave to do it in.

NSW has administered the most boosters of any state or territory. But more of the population is eligible due to being vaccinated earlier when the Delta outbreak locked down the state last year.

People who have recently caught COVID-19 – a sizeable group of more than a million in NSW – are also advised to wait four to six weeks after their infection to get a booster.

-AAP