NSW has recorded 2566 new Covid-19 cases as Omicron becomes the dominant variant in the state’s sudden surge in infection.
Sunday’s number breaks a record only set on Saturday, when NSW confirmed 2482 new cases – the most recorded in an Australian state since the beginning of the pandemic.
Hospitalisations and intensive care presentations remain relatively low, with 227 people in hospital with the virus, including 28 patients in ICU.
NSW Health said the Omicron variant was “likely” to be accounting for the majority of the new cases and would be scaling back the attempts to identify the new strain in confirmed cases.
“With the high number of Covid-19 cases now in NSW, NSW Health will only undertake genomic sequencing for the Omicron variant in the circumstances where it will make a clinical difference to the care of a patient,” it said in a statement.
“For instance, where it will inform treatment choices as some therapies work with Delta but not for Omicron, and in situations where it will inform public health action.”
Asked if NSW should bring back its mask mandate given the spike in cases, federal Health Minister Greg Hunt said: “There will be individuals who take actions that others may not agree with, but overwhelmingly Australians have been extraordinarily aware of themselves, and their friends and colleagues”.
Deputy chief medical officer Sonya Bennett urged Australians to wear masks regardless of what mandates were in place.
“I think we know mask mandates work,” she told reporters.
“We know mandates work generally. My plea to the community is we don’t need to wait for mandates to tell us what is sensible to do.
“That particularly applies to masks.
“They’re simple – we’re used to it. Most people around the country have worn masks at some stage.
“It’s a simple, easy, effective tool to continue to use when necessary.
“I ask the community to consider that they use that, that they make their own choice to use a mask when necessary.”
State Health Minister Brad Hazzard made similar comments.
“If you’re in close proximity to people inside and it’s a big group of people, consider wearing a mask,” he said.
“We also have to live our lives in a more normal way coming into 2022.
“We’ll continue to strike the balance.
“We’ll continue to look at all the issues that are happening around the world, but also here in our state, and we’ll make sure that people’s mental health and the economy is also well looked after by continuing to always look at all the factors, all of the factors, that drive New South Wales community as being one of the world’s best communities.”
Premier Dominic Perrottet urged everyone in NSW who was eligible to get a booster jab.
“Please make an appointment – that’s crucial in order to keep yourself safe, your family and your friends safe as well,” he said.
“Today, the first dose vaccination is coming into 95 per cent at 94.9 per cent. That’s incredibly pleasing.”