NSW's Covid-19 crisis is again heading in the wrong direction with the state recording its highest daily case total of the Delta outbreak on Thursday.
Premier Gladys Berejiklian announced a further 124 locally acquired cases, eclipsing the previous highest of 112 on July 12.
"I'm expecting case numbers to go up even higher," she said in a daunting prediction.
"We need to brace ourselves for that."
Of the latest cases, 48 were in the community for the entirety of their infectious period. A further 22 were partly in the community while infectious.
At least 130 cases announced in the previous 48 hours have spent time in the community.
The two main areas of transmission remain inside homes and workplaces, Ms Berejiklian said.
There had been a glimmer of hope earlier in the week cases were beginning to drop off, with 78 infections announced on Tuesday.
However cases soared beyond 100 once again on Wednesday and more worryingly more than half of the cases had spent time in the community while infectious.
Sydney is scheduled to exit lockdown on July 30 however that date is becoming increasingly unlikely. University of Melbourne modelling has suggested the end date of lockdown with the current restrictions in place could come as late as September.
Ms Berejiklian said a decision on a lockdown extension would be delivered in about seven days.
She said she "completely rejects" suggestion restrictions implemented have been insufficient, saying the measures have prevented thousands and thousands of cases since the outbreak began.
Covid NSW: Areas of concern identified
NSW Health's Dr Jeremy McAnulty identified Cumberland LGA, including Merrylands and Guildford, Toongabbie, Seven Hills, pendle hill, Mount Druitt, Rooty Hill, Wollongong, Fairfield LGA, Liverpool and Bankstown, Lakemba, Narwee, Campsie and Earlwood, Georges River, Bayside, Sutherland, Haymarket and Orange as places of concern.
Pressed on whether the state could get on top of the outbreak, Ms Berejiklian said she still had hope the Delta variant could be suppressed and stressed it was reliant on less people moving around the community.
There have been 1,648 locally acquired cases reported since June 16, when the first case in the Bondi cluster, an unvaccinated driver who ferried air crew, was reported.
There are currently 118 cases admitted to hospital, with 28 people in intensive care, 14 of whom require ventilation.
There were 85,185 COVID-19 tests reported to 8pm Wednesday, a new record compared with the previous day’s total of 83,477.
Queensland to shut border with NSW
As NSW's outbreak continues to rage, Queensland announced it will close its border to NSW for four weeks.
The border has already been closed to Greater Sydney for weeks but the state will shut the border to the rest of NSW from 1am on Friday.
Deputy Premier Steven Miles says the border needs to the close to protect the community when social distancing restrictions in Queensland ease from 6am on Friday.
Police checkpoints and barriers will also be set up at various points along the Queensland-NSW road borders however a border bubble will be in effect for some communities.
Do you have a story tip? Email: email@example.com