Daily Covid cases surge again to new NSW record

NSW coronavirus cases have continued to soar as restrictions across the state were eased on Wednesday.

The health department on Thursday said 1,742 new cases were recorded with no new deaths.

The latest daily total is the highest NSW has recorded since the pandemic began.

There are 26 people in the ICU and 192 people are being treated in hospital in total.

Long lines of cars are seen at the COVID-19 testing clinic at Bondi Beach in Sydney, Australia.
People queue for Covid testing at Bondi Beach on Wednesday. Source: Getty Images

More than 143,000 tests were conducted in the past 24 hours.

Cases skyrocketed on Wednesday with more than 1300 new ones recorded. Restrictions were also eased with masks no longer required in indoor settings, except for public transport and airports, and the unvaccinated granted many of the same freedoms as fully vaccinated people.

Huge testing queues were also seen in Sydney's eastern suburbs, Newcastle and the Central Coast.

Premier Dominic Perrottet is urging people to shift the focus from infections to the number of people in hospital.

While hospitalisations generally lag infection spikes, Mr Perrottet has "complete confidence" the hospital system will cope.

NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet looks on during a Covid-19 update in Sydney, Australia.
NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet is confident the state's hospital system will handle the caseload. Source: Getty Images

He rejected suggestions his government was sending confusing messages by warning cases could climb and urging caution, while at the same time easing restrictions and encouraging people to "enjoy the best that NSW has to offer".

"It is all about instilling confidence and ensuring everyone has a safe Christmas," he said.

Health Minister Brad Hazzard warned on Wednesday that Covid-19 cases would continue to rise, with modelling showing they could hit 25,000 a day by the end of January if the reproduction rate climbs.

Nancy Baxter, Head of Melbourne University's School of Population and Global Health, told ABC News Breakfast easing restrictions won't come without bad outcomes.

"To think that we are going to be able to relax our restrictions and somehow get away with it, with this new variant, that is not reality-based," she said.

Victoria's cases reach highest in nearly two months

Victoria has reported 1622 new Covid-19 cases and a further nine deaths, as the state slightly eases restrictions despite stubborn infection numbers and the emergence of the Omicron variant.

Thursday's daily case figure is the highest since October 29 and the state is now managing 12,252 active infections.

There are 384 patients in hospital, 87 of whom are actively infected with the virus in intensive care and 49 on ventilators.

The seven-day hospitalisation average is also on the rise, growing to 346.

Testers processed 80,841 results on Wednesday, while 10,816 people were vaccinated in state-run hubs.

Meanwhile, vaccine mandates have been scrapped in several settings in Victoria but masks remain in retail under relaxed restrictions from Thursday.

Shoppers no longer need to prove they are vaccinated to visit non-essential retail outlets, places of worship, weddings, funerals, and real estate inspections and auctions.

with AAP

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