NSW COVID-19 cases jump to 10-week high as unvaccinated ‘freedom day’ looms

NSW has recorded its largest daily number of COVID-19 cases in more than 10 weeks, with 804 new infections in the 24 hours to 8pm yesterday.

This is an increase on the 536 reported yesterday and on the 179 cases reported just two weeks ago.

There was also one death.

It’s the highest daily total recorded since October 2 when 814 cases were confirmed.

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Tomorrow, unvaccinated people in NSW will be given a swathe of new freedoms for the first time since the state’s lockdown began in June.

There are currently 168 people in hospital, 21 of whom are in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU).

This is the lowest number of patients in ICU since July 18.

A total of 94.8 per cent of the population aged 16 and over has had their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine and 93.2 per cent have had two doses.

Tomorrow, unvaccinated people will be permitted to return to non-essential retail businesses, hospitality venues and gyms.

QR check ins will only be mandatory in select spaces including hospitals, gyms, pubs and clubs and places of worship.

Face masks will also no longer be mandatory in many settings.

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  • Premier Dominic Perrottet has previously said the emergence of the Omicron variant and the rising COVID cases would not likely impact the relaxing of restrictions tomorrow.

    He has encouraged the public to focus on the low rate of cases in hospital, rather than rising infections.

    Mr Perrottet is expected to front the media shortly.

    Experts are still investigating Omicron’s severity and reaction to vaccines, but of the 64 Omicron cases in NSW there is only one in hospital.

    Yesterday, a cluster linked to a nightclub in Newcastle expanded to 84 cases, several of which are likely to have the Omicron variant of concern.

    The virus spread at a prom-themed event at the Argyle House club between 9pm on December 8 and 3am on December 9 which authorities have called a “superspreader”.

    “Because Omicron can spread so quickly … and because of the high level of transmission at this event, it’s probably going to be one of the highest transmission events this year in any single venue probably anywhere in the world,” Hunter Health director David Durrheim said.

    Three of the nightclub patrons are linked to a party boat cruise on Sydney Harbour two weeks ago, which has been connected to a number of Omicron infections.

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