NSW breaks national COVID-19 case record

The NSW government says it won't reimpose restrictions despite a spike in COVID-19 cases.
The NSW government says it won't reimpose restrictions despite a spike in COVID-19 cases.

NSW has recorded 2482 new COVID-19 cases, the most daily infections reported by any Australian state or territory since the pandemic began, and the majority of them are "likely" Omicron cases.

Health authorities announced the national daily case record on Saturday from 137,149 tests, beating the previous mark of 2297 set by Victoria on October 14.

The state also recorded one further virus-related death in the 24 hours to 8pm, an unvaccinated woman in her 60s from the northern tablelands region who died at St Vincent's Hospital.

The Omicron variant has now been confirmed in 226 cases, but NSW Health says the variant "likely accounts for the majority" of the new cases reported on Saturday.

It will be impossible to tell exactly how many.

With the breadth of the outbreak NSW Health are now only conducting genomic sequencing for the Omicron variant "in the circumstances where it will make a clinical difference to the care of a patient", and in situations where it will inform public health action.

The recent spike in case numbers, up from 260 on December 7, has yet to translate into many more intensive care patients.

There are currently 206 virus patients in NSW hospitals. Twenty-six of them are in ICUs, two more than for the previous reporting period.

There are also nine people on ventilators, and increase of one since Friday.

Some 93.3 per cent of people aged 16 and over in NSW are now fully vaccinated, while 78 per cent of those aged 12-15 are double dosed.

It comes as guests at a Byron Bay caravan park were told to isolate within the park grounds on Friday evening while NSW Health investigates a number of cases.

Ten guests were tested on Friday afternoon and four have already tested positive while others are awaiting results.

NSW Health says any guests who test positive will be supported to "isolate effectively", which may involve a stint in quarantine.

Meanwhile, Premier Dominic Perrottet is urging "perspective" as he faces pressure to reintroduce restrictions amid the record rise in cases a week out from Christmas.

The premier is determined to hold his course and encourage individual responsibility rather than reimpose restrictions like mandatory masks in retail settings.

"It is obviously going to be a challenging time. We accept that," he told reporters on Friday.

"But we need perspective. Our number one focus is to keep people safe, to keep hospitalisations and ICU numbers down."

Deputy Premier Paul Toole on Friday said the government would keep an eye on the hospital numbers and continue to look at advice.

Rules around masks will be a conversation the government will "continue to have in the coming days and weeks" but it is "sticking with (the) roadmap" for now, he said.

It is now only mandatory to wear a mask in high-risk settings, including on public transport or at a hospital.

The NSW branch of the Australian Medical Association has called for patients and their families to treat healthcare workers and staff with respect this festive period while enforcing mandatory mask and check-in measures.

"These rules will reduce the likelihood of COVID-19 transmission in hospital facilities and private practices and limit the impact of furloughing staff who may be close contacts of COVID-19 patients," AMA NSW's Sanjay Hettige said in a statement on Saturday.

Australian Associated Press