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ICU rate steady amid escalating NSW cases

Despite thousands of people forced into Christmas isolation and infections continuing to skyrocket, the number of NSW COVID-19 patients in intensive care remains stable.

The state added 6288 cases on Saturday, a rise of 676 on the number reported the day before and a record for NSW.

No new deaths were reported.

And while the number of people in hospital did climb by six to 388, patient numbers in ICUs were one fewer, at 52. Fourteen require ventilation.

Health officials said most patients in hospital care are unvaccinated.

On the testing front, numbers dropped significantly in the 24 hours to 8pm on Friday. While more than 149,000 people were swabbed, that was about 15,000 fewer than on Thursday.

The spiralling outbreak has for the past week swamped contact tracers and overwhelmed testing sites.

Elsewhere flight schedules for Christmas have also been impacted.

Dozens of Jetstar and Qantas domestic flights out of Sydney were cancelled on Christmas Eve as frontline staff deemed close contacts were forced to get tested and isolate as the virus spreads through the city.

The situation has also prompted the government to reintroduce some restrictions that were only wound back on December 15.

More than 30,000 people have been diagnosed with the virus in NSW in the days since.

Masks are again required in indoor settings, with hospitality venues to return to the one person per two-square metre rule and QR codes to be compulsory again from Monday.

While no restrictions affected Christmas gatherings at homes on Saturday, those still able to celebrate were encouraged to take precautions wherever possible.

Revellers were urged to take rapid antigen tests before gathering, prioritise ventilation and ask elderly visitors to sit outside on verandahs.

NSW is all but guaranteed to reach its goal of 95 per cent vaccination coverage, with the share of people with at least one dose hitting that target on Saturday.

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