NSW reports 319 new virus cases, 5 deaths

Health Minister Brad Hazzard said tracers need time to probe possible transmissions in Armidale.
Health Minister Brad Hazzard said tracers need time to probe possible transmissions in Armidale.

NSW has recorded five COVID-19 deaths and 319 new cases as the nation's top doctor calls for a circuit breaker to halt the virus' spread.

Three of the deaths have been linked to an outbreak in Liverpool Hospital sparked when a staff member unknowingly worked while infectious.

In all, four staff and 29 patients of the geriatric and neurology wards have been infected, leading to five deaths in recent weeks including a woman in her 60s receiving kidney treatment.

"This is a tragedy to occur and everyone is working very hard at the facility, and across NSW Health to protect patients and staff members," NSW Health COVID-19 response director Jeremy McAnulty said.

A southwest Sydney man, aged in his 60s, and an inner west man aged in his 80s also died in hospital on Friday after acquiring infections in the community.

Four new cases have been reported in the Newcastle area, with half yet to be linked to a known case.

All people at John Hunter Hospital emergency on Thursday from 8.42pm to 1.50am are close contacts and must isolate.

Two cases found overnight were in the Armidale Regional local government area, which entered a one-week lockdown at 5pm on Saturday.

A long-distance train from Broadmeadow in Newcastle to Armidale via Werris Creek near Tamworth is listed as a close contact exposure site for July 29 between 11.40am and 5.30pm, suggesting a positive case may have carried the virus across the state.

The stay-at-home order applies to all 30,000 people who live in the council area and those there at any time since July 31.

Health Minister Brad Hazzard said he was sorry but contact tracers need time to investigate potential transmissions from a young person who entered the area.

COVID-19 was also detected in Dubbo in the state's central west.

The daily case figures - 28 higher than Friday's 291 cases - came after the nation's top doctor, Paul Kelly, said the number of unlinked cases, new chains of transmission and geographical spread in NSW were "worrying signs".

He was pleased the virus had been suppressed but said there was no sense it was "rapidly" heading to zero.

"There is clearly a need for a circuit-breaker," the chief medical officer said on Friday evening.

Mr Hazzard said Dr Kelly hadn't explained what such a circuit breaker would look like, reiterating the key was staying home and getting vaccinated.

"(The community has) really got to get serious about staying at home," he said, outlining the higher workload for contact tracers.

Dr McAnulty said young adults were driving the epidemic, through essential work, shopping and being a major link between several generations, including young children.

"So the message about vaccination for young adults is really important," he said.

About 45 per cent of NSW residents aged over 16 have been jabbed at least once, up from 36 per cent a fortnight ago.

At that rate, it'll take more than a month to reach NSW's first goal of 70 per cent.

The vaccination rate of NSW's 56 intensive care patients is nine per cent.

Nearly 350 people are being treated in hospital - more than double the figures two weeks ago.

At least 83 new cases reported on Saturday were in the community during their infectious period, with the isolation status of 98 others unknown.

The seven-week outbreak has now claimed 28 lives and infected 4929.

Of more than 300 people fined on Friday for disobeying lockdown restrictions, four were found having a picnic at Mrs Macquarie's Chair.

Authorities remain concerned about rising numbers in Canterbury-Bankstown, and dozens of cases are also emerging in the Inner West and Penrith council areas.

Australian Associated Press