NSW has reported a record 291 new locally-acquired cases of COVID-19 and at least 96 of those were circulating in the community for all or part of their infectious period.
A woman in her 60s has also died while receiving care in Liverpool Hospital, taking the toll of the current coronavirus outbreak to 23. She was unvaccinated.
Greater Sydney and surrounding regions are in lockdown until at least August 28 and the NSW Hunter for a week as health authorities battle to contain a outbreak of the virulent Delta strain.
Premier Gladys Berejiklian on Friday warned the escalation in daily infections would continue in the coming days and again pointed to vaccination as a way out of the outbreak.
Almost 44 per cent of NSW residents over 16 have been jabbed at least once.
“The more people we get vaccinated, the sooner we will be able to live more freely and I really want to stress that point,” Ms Berejiklian told reporters.
“Life for us on August 29 will be a reflection of how many people have at least one dose of the vaccine and where the case numbers are.
“Given where numbers are, given the experience of Delta overseas, we now have to live with Delta one way or another and that is pretty obvious. The higher the vaccination rate, the safer we are, the freer we’ll be.”
There are 50 patients in NSW in intensive care, with 22 ventilated.
Meanwhile, Year 12 students in western Sydney’s eight coronavirus-hit council areas will not return to in-person schooling when the remainder of the city’s students re-enter the classroom on August 16.
Education Minister Sarah Mitchell said in a statement on Friday that HSC students in the eight local government areas of concern would not return to school, allowing time for vaccinations to take effect.
The council areas in question are Blacktown, Campbelltown, Canterbury-Bankstown, Cumberland, Fairfield, Georges River, Liverpool and Parramatta.
Students who reside in those areas but go to school in others will also be barred from attending school.
Qudos Bank Arena in Sydney Olympic Park will from Monday be available to Year 12 students in the virus-hit areas for Pfizer vaccinations.
For locked-down Year 12 students in other parts of Sydney, all school assessments and trial HSC exams will be completed from home.
“Education is essential and we must provide our HSC students the opportunity to receive the curriculum and wellbeing support they need during the last few months of their schooling,” Ms Mitchell said in a statement.
The NSW Teachers Federation said in response that it would continue to prioritise the health and safety of students and its members. It has opposed the return of Year 12 students to classrooms.
It comes as people in Newcastle and the Hunter region join Greater Sydney in lockdown for at least one week after local cases were uncovered.
The seven-day snap lockdown was called after five new cases turned up in Newcastle and eight more were found in the Central Coast region. Another two cases were on Friday recorded in the Hunter.
NSW Labor on Friday also said the government should provide more “Dine and Discover” hospitality vouchers to those who get the jab.
© AAP 2021