NSW coronavirus cases spike to 171

AAP reporters
NSW residents have been warned not to take chances with their health due to COVID-19

Public Anzac Day services have been cancelled in NSW as the state braces to combat a "substantial exponential increase" in coronavirus infections.

People flouting coronavirus isolation rules could be thrown in jail or fined $11,000 under tough new measures designed to stop the virus spreading through large public gatherings.

The number of confirmed cased of COVID-19 in NSW almost doubled over the weekend to reach 171 on Monday.

NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard says there have been 37 new cases in the 24 hours to 11am on Monday, an increase he described as "dramatic".

The 171 cases have come from over 25,000 tests.

"The number of people who are still being impacted in our community is still relatively small," Mr Hazzard said in Sydney.

"Having said that, it is starting to look as if there will be a fairly substantial ... exponential increase in numbers over the next few weeks."

Mr Hazzard has issued an order under the Public Health Act to force the immediate cancellation of public events with more than 500 people.

Individuals who fail to comply could face up to six months in prison, a fine of up to $11,000, or both, he said on Monday.

Under the changes, which came into effect on Sunday, corporations face even harsher fines.

NSW Police on Monday evening said officers have been given the discretion to decide whether it is hygienic to perform stationary drug and alcohol tests.

Random breath testing will continue, NSW Police said in a statement.

Several large events across the state including the Sydney Royal Easter Show have been cancelled.

RSL NSW on Monday decided to cancel all public Anzac Day services across the state.

"The risk to vulnerable people during the current health situation is simply too high for these events to continue in their traditional format," RSL NSW said in a statement.

Chief health officer Dr Kerry Chant says NSW is planning to ensure it has enough testing kits to cope with the increased burden of the disease.

"If we test according to our procedures we will have adequate supplies," she told reporters on Monday.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian has urged people to be careful and not take chances with their own health and the health of others.

"Don't just think of yourself or your own family, but you could be unintentionally infecting and causing the death of so many other people," she said in southern NSW on Monday.

"I want everyone to brace themselves. It's not a time to be complacent or reckless or think that it's not going to affect you."

Schools have adopted social distancing measures, including cancelling assemblies, excursions and travel, as well as some events and conferences in a bid to slow the spread of COVID-19.

The Association of Independent Schools of NSW said some of its 500 schools will start teaching students remotely.

St Christopher's Catholic Primary School in Panania in Sydney's southwest closed on Monday after a person who attended an event hosted by the school tested positive for the disease.

The University of Technology Sydney has paused all lectures, tutorials and classes for a week.

Meanwhile, NSW Labor leader Jodi McKay has written to the premier saying it would be inappropriate for state parliament to sit next week.

There are more than 300 coronavirus cases across the country.

Australia's COVID-19 death toll rose to five on Sunday after a 90-year-old female resident of Sydney's Dorothy Henderson Lodge nursing home died after becoming infected.