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NSW adds 244 virus circumstances, one death

There are 244 new local COVID-19 cases in NSW along with one further death.

Some 269 virus patients remain in hospitals around the state, 52 of them in intensive care.

Health officials say COVID testers processed more than 70,000 results in the 24 hours to 8pm on Saturday.

NSW is now 89.7 per cent fully vaccinated for people aged 16 and over, while 93.9 per cent have at least had one jab.

Concerns meanwhile continue over the number of new cases being detected in regional NSW.

Of 270 local infections the state added to its caseload on Saturday, some 73 were detected in the Hunter New England health district, 37 on the mid north coast, 21 in Murrumbidgee and 10 in western NSW.

The Central Coast had six cases and there were five in both the Illawarra and Blue Mountains.

Ongoing sewage surveillance also found virus fragments in samples collected from a number of locations where no cases have yet been recorded including Uralla and Byron Bay in northern NSW and at Dungog and Denman in the Hunter Valley.

With new cases beyond Sydney remaining stubbornly high, authorities are worried about the impact on Indigenous communities especially as travel around NSW resumes.

At Friday’s national cabinet meeting, National COVID Vaccine Taskforce co-ordinator Lieutenant General John Frewen gave an update on the plan to partner with Aboriginal community-controlled health organisations to accelerate vaccination rollout, noting hesitancy continued to be a factor.

Doherty Institute modelling has found Indigenous communities may require localised health strategies.

Federal Labor pointed to an Indigenous “vaccination gap”, including in five regions where the difference between the state’s double-dose rate and the rate for fully vaccinated Indigenous people exceeds 20 per cent.

In the Richmond-Tweed, 59.9 per cent of the Indigenous population aged over 15 is fully vaccinated, while in Coffs Harbour-Grafton the figure is 63.5 per cent.

The NSW mid north coast has 63.7 per cent, New England 66.2 per cent and Murray 67.2 per cent.

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