NSW has recorded 27 new locally acquired Covid-19 cases as Premier Gladys Berejiklian announced Sydney's current lockdown will be extended for a further week.
The two-week lockdown for Sydney, the Central Coast, Blue Mountains, Wollongong and Shellharbour was due to end midnight Friday but Ms Berejiklian has pushed back its end date to July 16.
"What we want to do is give us our best chance of making sure this is the only lockdown we have until the vast majority of our citizens are vaccinated," the premier told reporters on Wednesday.
"This Delta strain is a game-changer - it is extremely transmissible and more contagious than any other form of the virus that we've seen."
She called it a "difficult decision" to make.
The sources of nine of the latest cases are under investigation.
Fourteen of the cases were partially or fully in the community whilst infectious.
Ms Berejiklian delivered an ultimatum to the community, saying their behaviour over the next 10 days would shape how Sydney residents live over the next four months.
"The next 9 or 10 days will determine how we live until those vaccines arrive at the end of October," she said.
"We know the vaccine is key to our freedom."
Local cases have yo-yoed in recent days, with 18 on Tuesday, 35 on Monday, 16 on Sunday and 35 on Saturday.
'Concerning' surge in cases in three LGAs
Ms Berejiklian said early indications suggested Thursday's daily total will again be higher.
"We have seen overnight some concerning statistics on what is happening in the Fairfield, Canterbury-Bankstown and Liverpool council areas," she said, noting transmission was spread across several households in those areas.
Ms Berejiklian pleaded with residents in those areas not to leave the house "unless its absolutely necessary".
She said it was possible stricter restrictions would be implemented in those areas in the coming days.
"I can't tell you just how critical it is at the moment, particularly for the community in south-west Sydney, Canterbury-Bankstown, Fairfield and Liverpool, to understand that your individual actions may well determine the future of this virus in our community. Please listen," Health Minister Brad Hazzard added.
School students will not resume face-fo-face learning until July 19, a decision that was made primarily to reduce the movement of parents, Ms Berejiklian said.
"We need to stop literally hundred of thousand of adults moving around and interacting with each other inadvertently as they drop kids off, pick kids up at those usual times."
Children of essential workers will be allowed to attend school.
Covid hospitalising young residents
Seven people are now in intensive care as a result of the virus, while 37 have been hospitalised.
Fourteen of those are under the age of 55 and eight are under the age of 35.
"This should dispel the myth that this is something that only impacts on the elderly," Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant told reporters.
Ms Berejiklian said the state government will be providing a roadmap out of lockdown in the coming days.
She said it was "absolutely our intention" to exit lockdown on July 16.
"This is our one chance to get as much of the disease out of New South Wales as we can and that's why it is so important for all of us to do the right thing in the next nine days."
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