NSW Covid cases balloon as infections near 6000

Just two days before Christmas, NSW has recorded a staggering 5715 new Covid infections in the past 24-hour reporting period.

This is almost 2000 cases more than Wednesday's record number for the state of 3763.

Sadly one more death has been recorded with hospitalisations rising to 347. Of this number, 45 people are in the intensive care unit.

Cars queue as people wait to recieve a Covid test at a drive through testing facility at Sydney International Airport on December 22, 2021. Source: AAP/Dan Himbrechts
NSW has been plagued by lengthy queues at Covid testing clinics with Christmas just days away. Source: AAP/Dan Himbrechts

Thursday's daily total is 3.5 times greater than the worst day of the state's Delta outbreak when daily cases grew to 1603 on September 11.

More than 160,000 tests were done in the 24 hours to 8pm on Wednesday.

Almost 94 per cent of people 16 years and over in NSW have had their second dose of the vaccine, while 94.9 per cent have had their first.

Victoria on Thursday reported another 2005 new cases and 10 more Covid deaths. There are 72 people in ICU with Covid in Victoria. Tasmania announced its highest daily Covid tally with 26 more cases recorded. Queensland announced 369 new cases and the ACT 85, both were pandemic records for their respective jurisdictions.

NSW government backflips on QR code check-ins

Minister for Customer Service and Digital Victor Dominello on Thursday announced the government had changed its mind on mandatory check-ins to venues across the state.

"Given the increasing Omicron numbers we'll revert back to our pre-15 Dec check-in settings," he tweeted.

Check-ins will be mandatory again at supermarkets, shops and hospitality venues.

But Premier Dominic Perrottet is still resisting bringing back mask mandates at indoor venues, despite NSW Health urging everyone to wear them in high-risk settings.

The government is however considering providing free rapid antigen tests via mail, as testing clinics are overwhelmed and wait times - both for the test and the result - blow out.

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