The NSW Premier has refused to clarify whether he believes NSW will surpass its previous Covid-19 infection and death records as the state prepares to live with the wildly infectious Delta strain.
The drop in cases came as NSW hit another vaccination milestone with just about 90 per cent of people aged 16 years and over having received their first jab.
"We know vaccination is key to our freedom and high vaccination rates here in NSW have not just led the nation but led the world," he said.
"As we open up on Monday we need to open up in a safe way.
"This journey is not over. There is a long way to go and we need to continue that focus."
He admitted cases will rise as restrictions ease but dodged a question about whether NSW will surpass its previous record of 1599 cases on September 11 and its record of 15 daily deaths under his revised roadmap.
“Premier, on that note, highest cases today has been around the 1,600 level, 15 deaths in a single reporting period. Under the revised road map, do you expect either of those to increase?” a reporter probed.
“Naturally we will see as New South Wales opens up, case numbers increase and hospital admissions increase. That is a natural part of opening up and that's why we've done this in a safe way and ensured that we haven't done so until we've had that vaccination rates where we wanted it to be,” he responded.
But he stopped short of addressing how high cases are predicted to surge in the coming weeks.
“There have been challenges but there's no doubt cases will increase and we will learn to live alongside the virus but importantly we have to get that vaccination rate continuing to increase.”
It follows a warning from the Australian Medical Association that changes to the state's plan to emerge from lockdown could overwhelm the hospital system and burn out healthcare workers.
The new premier said he knew easing restrictions was "going to be difficult" but asked for patience as "we learn as we go ahead".
Details emerge on new Delta strain
Meanwhile, Chief Health Officer Kerry Chant has shed some light on the new Delta strain circulating in Sydney.
"We've linked that back to a person who returned overseas but the exact mechanism of how that new Delta strain emerged and got into the community in western Sydney is still under investigation," she said.
Dr Chant called for calm, revealing the new strain isn’t more dangerous or deadly.
“But I want to reassure you that there's nothing about this Delta strain from looking at the genomics that suggests it's any more transmissible, going to cause illness or any other issues, additional to the current Delta strain.”
Last weekend of lockdown
From Monday, a swathe of restrictions will lift for fully vaccinated people across the state.
Ten adult visitors will be allowed in homes, 30 people will be permitted to gather outdoors, and 100 guests can congregate at weddings and funerals.
Shops and hospitality venues can reopen and the five-kilometre from home travel limit will be scrapped.
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