NSW posts its deadliest virus day

·3-min read

NSW has recorded 16 COVID-19 deaths, the most in a single day since the pandemic began, along with 30,062 new infections.

The state's previous deadliest reporting day was October 1 last year, with 15 fatalities.

The latest victims were eight women and eight men in their 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s. All were from Sydney except one from the state's Central Coast and one from the south coast.

There are currently 1927 virus patients in NSW hospitals, 130 more than the previous day. Of them, 151 are in intensive care and of these, health authorities say 38 are in need of ventilation.

Changes to workplace restrictions and transport timetables have meanwhile been announced in a bid to ease the impact of rising case numbers on the delivery of critical services.

Food logistics and manufacturing staff furloughed as close contacts are now allowed to leave self-isolation to attend work if they have no symptoms.

NSW Health says they are only eligible to do so if employers determine their absence poses a high risk of disruption to the delivery of critical services or activities and they are unable to work from home.

They also have to wear a mask and comply with risk-management strategies including daily rapid antigen tests or RATs.

The new rules apply to critical workers in biosecurity and food safety, the production and manufacturing of food, beverages, groceries, cleaning and sanitary products, and food logistics, delivery and grocery fulfilment.

Transport Workers Union national secretary Michael Kaine lashed the changes as reckless, a threat to the health and safety of staff and likely to exacerbate supply chain disruptions.

"Workers are being thrown to the wolves by a government that continues to ignore all the warnings," he said.

"We know even if you're asymptomatic you can still spread the virus."

Mr Kaine said sick drivers won't get stock onto supermarket shelves any faster but will "certainly help the virus hitch a ride across Australia".

NSW Train and bus timetables will also be adjusted from Monday to help provide services while managing staff shortages.

Transport for NSW operations chief Howard Collins says enhanced weekend timetables will run across most of the network with hundreds of workers impacted and numbers "expected to fluctuate going forward."

Health officials say testers processed 98,986 results on Saturday, down on Friday's almost 117,000 which yielded a further 45,098 infections.

That number was more than 6000 fewer than similarly afflicted Victoria where a backlog of cases were registered via the state's new online RAT reporting capacity.

NSW is yet to launch a similar system but is expected to make the switch by mid-week - at which point case numbers are expected to surge afresh.

Premier Dominic Perrottet said on Sunday a further 50 million RATs had been purchased by the state in addition to the 50 million already in reserve.

"These tests will be crucial to ensure that we get kids back to school day one, term one," he said.

"We are finalising our back-to-school plans at the moment. This will be a core part of the plans getting kids back in the classrooms."

Opposition leader Chris Minns says it's essential to know sooner than Wednesday where positive RAT cases are, to ensure doctors, nurses, hospital cleaners and other frontline workers are in the right place.

He also wants the government to plan a stocktake of available teachers ahead of the new term and consider turning primary schools into vaccination hubs.

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