'Rambling': NSW Health Minister savaged over 'absolute mess'

NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard has been criticised over his Saturday coronavirus update where he was slow to reveal the state's worst day since the pandemic began with 319 new Covid cases and five deaths.

Mr Hazzard had been speaking for about six minutes before he revealed the number of daily infections and later on he also confirmed five deaths as well as the Armidale local government area going into lockdown.

Before getting to the devastating news, the minister wanted to focus on the "great news", speaking about NSW's vaccine uptake and urging people to get the jab.

Brad Hazzard during Saturday's Covid-19 press conference. Source: 9News
Brad Hazzard during Saturday's Covid-19 press conference. Source: 9News

People also took issue with his rhetoric, accusing him of "blaming NSW community for [the] worsening situation".

"We have the toughest lockdown the country the present time. What is not happening is people are not complying," Mr Hazzard said.

"If people don't comply, the community will continue to suffer."

Social media users took to Twitter to hit out at Mr Hazzard's press conference.

"Absolute appalling blabber by @BradHazzard at today’s presser. All over the place. An absolute mess that blames the community for everything," one person wrote.

"The NSW government has lost the management of Covid. They don’t know how to control it. They don’t want to."

ABC News presenter Joe O'Brien said: "Note to NSW Govt Be upfront, honest and clear with us.

"Start with paying your respects to those who have died and telling us how many more there have been.

"Tell us how many new cases have been detected and how many have been in community while infectious Then other clear messages."

Australia's CMO yet to detail 'circuit breaker', Hazzard says

UNSW strategic health policy consultant and adjunct professor Bill Bowtell also weighed in on Mr Hazzard's efforts.

"@BradHazzard reduced to blaming NSW community for worsening situation. But responsibility lies squarely with policy decisions and implementation by NSW govt," he said.

"Today’s effort from @BradHazzard was pathetic," another person added.

"Forget the politics of it, the chasm in communication skills between NSW (Hazzard) and Victoria (Andrews) is monumental. Head-shakingly monumental," ACM digital editor Janine Graham said.

Another social media user described the scene as "most rambling and confusing public health message I have ever heard".

People also took issue with his response to Australia's Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly calling for a NSW 'circuit breaker' and noted Premier Gladys Berejiklian's absence on NSW's worst day since the pandemic began.

"I saw Paul Kelly's comments. He hasn't told us what that circuit breaker would be. I haven't had that," Mr Hazzard said.

NSW recorded five new deaths in the past 24 hours until midnight on Saturday. There have been 27 Covid-related deaths during the current outbreak and 84 since the beginning of the pandemic.

A woman in her 80s, a man in his 80s and a man in his 90s, as well as a man in his 60s, all from southwest Sydney, died at Liverpool Hospital.

Further, a man in his 80s from the inner west died at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital.

Of the 319 new cases announced on Saturday, 125 were linked to a known case or cluster, with 108 being household contacts and 17 close contacts. The remaining 194 of these cases are under investigation.

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