COVID-19 cases in NSW have fallen slightly but the state is bracing for a potential spike in case numbers, almost two weeks after stay-at-home orders lifted.
The state reported 345 cases on Friday, down from 372 on Thursday.
Five more people died, taking the death toll from this outbreak to 592.
The number of people in hospital continues to fall, now at 482 – some 41 of whom were from the previous day.
Despite the slight dip, case numbers are still higher than they’ve been for most of the past week.
Health authorities are expecting cases to begin rising in earnest from next week – two weeks after initial freedoms came in, and a week after the second stage of the roadmap out of lockdown allowed significantly more social interactions.
Premier Dominic Perrottet on Thursday said case numbers were still well below expectations.
“There will be increasing numbers, there will be an increase in hospitalisations,” he said.
“And that’s why I say to everyone across the state as we do open up, please follow the rules that are in place because those rules aren’t there for the sake of it.”
But authorities are hoping the high vaccination rates will suppress the rapid spread of the virus, or at least keep a lid on hospitalisations.
Chief Health Officer Kerry Chant warned earlier this week the expected rise in cases was yet to come and said her sights were set on getting at least 95 per cent of the state vaccinated.
“There’s a lot of uncertainties about what case numbers will do,” Dr Chant said.
“Next week I will be really interested in what our numbers are.”
Speaking at Sydney Airport on Friday morning, Mr Perrottet declared his state was on the “runway to recovery” as Qantas announced it was bringing staff back from next week and putting on more international flights.
Qantas CEO Alan Joyce credited the move to Mr Perrottet’s decision to abandon hotel and home quarantine for international arrivals and Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s changes to border rules.
“It’s very much a turning point in the pandemic,” Mr Perrottet said.
NSW Health on Thursday night said people entering NSW from Victoria will continue to be subject to public health orders until November 1, including completing a declaration and adhering to stay-at-home rules.
From November 1 an unvaccinated person who has been in Victoria in the previous 14 days will not be able to enter NSW for a holiday or recreation.
“There are still places of high concern — close and casual contact venues — in Victoria,” NSW Health said.