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Trick-or-treaters urged to stay COVID safe

While the costumed fun of trick-or-treating will serve as another sign of easing restrictions, NSW parents are being urged to keep the Halloween tradition COVID safe.

“Aim to keep celebrations outside,” is the chief advice offered by NSW Health’s Dr Jeremy McAnulty.

“Provide closed packaging for treats instead of communal lolly bowls and consider ways for distributing treats that are safe, for example, putting them along the front fence or in the front yard.

“Keep it local,” he added.

By that he means parents and children should confine themselves to their own neighbourhood rather than wandering into ‘treat streets’ beyond.

Kids should not share face masks and if they are feeling unwell, they should not participate at all.

With less than two days to go until Sydneysiders are allowed to visit the state’s regions, NSW added 236 local infections to its COVID-19 caseload on Saturday.

A further three deaths were also recorded, taking the state’s toll since the start of the pandemic to 569.

Dr McAnulty said the fatalities included a Newcastle man in his 40s and a western Sydney man in his 60s. Both had received one vaccine dose and had underlying health problems.

A Sydney man in his 80s who died at Liverpool Hospital was fully vaccinated but had also been ill before contracting the virus.

Some 343 COVID-19 patients remained in NSW hospitals, 81 of them in intensive care and 33 in need of ventilation, Dr McAnulty said.

More than 77,000 tests were conducted in the 24 hours to 8pm on Friday, while 93.5 per cent of NSW residents aged 16 or over have now received at least one vaccine jab.

The state’s full vaccination rate stands at 87 per cent.

In the 12 to 15-year-old age group, 79 per cent have had their first dose and 58.5 per cent are fully vaccinated.

New cases continue to be detected in the regions. Of the 236 latest infections, at least 146 were reported in health districts outside Greater Sydney.

Some 73 cases were found in the Hunter New England, 33 in Murrumbidgee and 13 on the Mid North Coast. Others were reported in the Illawarra, on the Central Coast and in the Blue Mountains.

Dr McAnulty said NSW Health’s ongoing sewage surveillance program has also detected fragments of the virus in samples collected in a series of locations where cases were yet to be reported.

They included Leeton in the Riverina, Mullumbimby in the Byron Shire, the northern township of Inverell, and Uralla on the Northern Tablelands.

Despite this, authorities are preparing to open up travel between metropolitan Sydney and beyond on Monday.

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