RAT tests bring surge in NSW COVID numbers

·3-min read

NSW has reported a dramatic surge in COVID-19 infections and another milestone for deaths as the state rushed to report positive results from rapid antigen tests.

Some 91,928 new COVID-19 infections were reported with 22 lives lost in the 24 hours to 8pm on Wednesday.

NSW Health mistakenly reported 92,264 cases earlier in the day but later discounted a number of PCR tests.

The deaths include 13 men and nine women with one person in their 60s, eight in their 70s, seven in their 80s, five in their 90s, and one person over 100.

The number of people in hospital continues to rise, with 2383 people admitted and 182 in intensive care.

Meanwhile, NSW Health has cautioned that some of Thursday's total included people reporting positive RATs on multiple days and possible follow-up positive PCR tests.

The number includes 61,387 positive RAT results covering the period since January 1, including 50,729 in the last seven days, as well as 30,541 PCR tests.

The total number of cases in NSW since the start of the pandemic stands at 566,164.

Earlier on Thursday, Customer Service and Digital Minister Victor Dominello said 82,000 positive RAT results from tests taken since January 1 had been uploaded to the Service NSW app or website.

He said about two-thirds of that figure was from tests conducted in the past week, while the remainder were from January 1.

While there was a sudden surge in reporting self-test results via the government app and website, Mr Dominello said the new system was working well.

"So far, so good. We received feedback and the feedback scores are 96 per cent thumbs up. The system is working and it's holding onto the load," Mr Dominello told ABC news.

The reporting system for positive RAT results went live on Wednesday morning and while the requirement only became mandatory on the day, NSW residents were asked to add tests taken since the start of the year.

From January 19, the government has threatened a $1000 fine for anyone who does not report a positive RAT result but has conceded it will be difficult to enforce the fine.

Opposition health spokesman Ryan Park took aim at the government, accusing the premier of being "more interested in fining the community than actually making sure the community can access a rapid antigen test".

He accused Mr Perrottet of prioritising politicians ahead of frontline workers, saying he should have intervened after the Department of Parliamentary Services began sending test kits to members of parliament and their staff.

Labor has pledged to donate the rapid test kits its members receive to frontline workers and charities, which several government ministers have also committed to doing.

Mr Dominello told the Nine Network the $1000 fine is "almost going to be impossible in many ways to enforce".

"But the majority of the states and territories in the country have gone down the path of issuing a fine or putting a fine in place - Tasmania, South Australia, Northern Territory, ACT - and some have chosen the other path of just saying 'please do it'."

Mr Dominello said registering a test result was mainly about connecting infected people with any healthcare need, or federal government financial assistance.

Prior to the new RAT reporting system, the state opposition had warned authorities were "flying blind" without an accurate picture of the spread of the virus in the community.

Premier Dominic Perrottet has said the government is considering a voucher-style system to distribute the tests.

Some 21.6 per cent of people aged 16 and over have received their third vaccine dose, while 93.7 per cent have received their second.

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