NSW records 286 COVID-19 cases, two deaths

·3-min read

A full return to elective surgery and simpler rules around travel cancellations are on the way in NSW as the state records two more deaths and another 286 local COVID-19 cases.

Case numbers reported in the 24 hours to 8pm on Thursday were 25 higher than the previous day, while the 77,119 tests conducted were only a slight increase on the day before.

There is some concern for the Sydney Local Health District that covers the CBD and parts of the inner west after the rate of new cases more than doubled compared with the start of the week.

On Monday, Sydney recorded 18 cases, but on Friday there were 38 new cases, contributing to a total of 124 cases for the week.

The Hunter New England recorded the most cases for a single health district with 57, followed by southwestern Sydney with 56.

Elective surgery will begin to return to full capacity in Greater Sydney on Monday, with NSW Health announcing restrictions "can now be safely removed due to the very high rates of vaccination and stable levels of community transmission".

Health districts will be able to impose temporary restrictions if there is a local outbreak.

Two deaths were connected with the virus on Friday, while one new overseas case was also detected.

An unvaccinated woman in her 70s from southwestern Sydney died at Liverpool Hospital.

A fully-vaccinated Maitland man in his 70s who had "significant underlying health conditions" died at Maitland Hospital.

There are 236 people in hospital - up eight on the previous day's tally - with 34 in intensive care and 15 on ventilators.

Some 90.8 per cent of people over 16 are fully vaccinated and 94.1 per cent of adults have had their first jab.

In the 12-15 age group, more than 80 per cent have had their first dose, and 72.4 per cent both.

NSW Health director of health protection Dr Jeremy McAnulty says it is now important to focus on booster shots for people who were fully vaccinated more than six months ago as their immunity could decrease.

"While the risk of infection and severe disease is much higher in unvaccinated people, we do see sometimes spread among vaccinated indoors, such as gyms and bars," Dr McAnulty says.

Australian Medical Association president Omar Khorshid also recommended people take up the booster shots to continue protecting the community.

"Sydney is a great example of when you get a population significantly vaccinated, the impact of this terrible virus is vastly reduced," Dr Khorshid told 2SM radio.

He said the boosters would "make sure we don't see what we're seeing in other countries, where the virus is making a comeback as the immunity levels drop in the community".

Meanwhile, with the final restrictions lifted and people in NSW dreaming of travelling again, they are being promised simpler regulations if their plans are dashed.

Better Regulation and Innovation Minister Kevin Anderson said during the pandemic the government received thousands of complaints from people who unknowingly agreed to travel cancellation policies they were not happy with.

New information standards will clearly outline key terms and conditions of travel contracts relating to cancellations, refunds and credits, processing fees and any other important exclusions.

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