NSW has sustained its deadliest day of the pandemic as a function for people to register their positive rapid antigen test results went live on the state’s COVID-19 app.
- Seven of 21 new deaths are historic and confirmed by coronial inquests
- About 90 per cent of NSW’s COVID-19 cases are the Omicron stain
- People can now report positive rapid antigen test results on the Service NSW app
There were 21 deaths in the 24 hours to 8pm yesterday, but chief health officer Kerry Chant revealed seven of those deaths were “historic” and dated back as far as September.
Dr Chant said authorities had been waiting on the findings of coronial inquests before linking some of the fatalities to the virus.
In total 17 men and four women were confirmed to have died with the virus in the latest reporting period – the youngest person was in their 30s and the eldest was more that 100 years old.
The number of people being treated for the virus in hospital has grown to 2,242 and 175 people are in intensive care.
It is an increase of 56 hospital and five ICU patients respectively on the previous reporting period. There are 54 people on a ventilator.
There were another 34,759 new infections recorded on Tuesday, with 134,411 tests conducted.
Premier Dominic Perrottet said 95 per cent of residents aged 16 and over had at least one dose of a vaccine, yet half the people in ICU were unvaccinated.
“So, please, if you have not done so if you have not received the first dose, please go and do so. If you are eligible for a second dose please do as well,” he said.
Dr Chant said genomic sequencing had revealed 90 per cent of active cases in NSW were the Omicron strain, with 10 per cent being the Delta variant.
“Obviously that can be different in different geographical areas but that gives the community a broader understanding,” she said.
Despite health authorities describing Omicron as being more “mild” than previous strains, Dr Chant said 67 per cent of people in ICU had the new variant.
In the first week of December only 10 per cent of people in ICU were infected with Omicron, she said.
NSW Health said yesterday the dropping number of PCR tests being conducted meant reported cases do not reflect the true number of infections in the community.
Case numbers plummeted from a peak of more than 45,000 on January 7 to just 20,200 in two days after people were urged to use rapid tests instead of battling long queues for lab swabs.
A self-reporting feature for rapid antigen tests (RATs) went live on the Service NSW app at 9am today.
Premier Dominic Perrottet said public health orders had been signed making reporting a positive RAT result mandatory.
Anyone who has tested positive on a RAT test from today must report it or face a $1,000 fine.
People who have tested positive between January 1 and 11 must report theirs, too.
Mr Perrottet said the government would give the community a one-week grace period before the fines come into effected on January 19.
The state government has ordered 50 million RATs and is seeking to procure 50 million more to be distributed to essential service workers including teachers, health and transport staff.
Mr Perrottet, however, said National Cabinet had decided not to distribute free tests to the wider community because private supply chains would “be compromised through that approach”.
Instead, the Premier said a voucher system to be used at pharmacies or supermarkets was being considered.
He acknowledged there were still major challenges surrounding the supply of RATs but expected private providers to step up in coming weeks.
Mr Perrottet said the RAT and PCR test systems would “compliment” each other moving forward to paint an accurate picture of the viral load in the community.