A day after setting an unwanted record for daily COVID-19 infections, NSW announced another one.
Health Minister Brad Hazzard announced on Sunday morning that the state had 830 new cases, five more compared to the previous day's total, and bringing its total for the outbreak to 12,217.
There were three more deaths in the 24 hours to 8pm on Saturday, taking the outbreak's death toll to 71.
But Mr Hazzard, like Premier Gladys Berejiklian, wants to draw attention to another figure: the state's vaccination rate.
He said it was one silver lining, and that he had been advised the rate was among the fastest in the world.
"I am pleased, very pleased, that the vaccination rate in NSW is quite extraordinary," Mr Hazzard said.
"Even though we might be the best in the world at the moment, NSW can do better."
Vaccination coverage in NSW for people aged 16 and over, as of Friday, was 58.33 per cent with at least one dose, and 31.26 fully vaccinated.
The pandemic is playing out in alarming ways at a local level in NSW.
Seven new cases were recorded in Hunter New England, where health authorities said three of the region's fresh cases - two in Jesmond and one in Islington - were infectious in the community.
The remaining four cases were evenly split between Edgeworth and Branxton, with none of them infectious in the community.
All seven cases are linked to previously reported cases, with one linked to the Costco exposure revealed on Friday.
Meanwhile, as discord grows among state and territory leaders over a national deal to reopen the country with vaccination targets, Prime Minister Scott Morrison appeared on ABC TV this morning saying the use of lockdowns to suppress the virus after the nation hits a 70 per cent vaccination rate would do more harm than good.
He said while it was unlikely there would be a return to zero infections - as states and territories had earlier achieved through lockdowns and other restrictions - the goal was to suppress rather than eliminate Covid.
But he also supported the use of lockdowns as Covid cases grew in NSW and Victoria, and continued emerging in the ACT.
"Right now, of course we need to make the lockdowns effective, we need to suppress the virus as best we can, and we need for people to isolate, stay at home, get tested and of course get vaccinated."
The pandemic crisis continues in Victoria, which sent its regions into lockdown yesterday after recording cases in Shepparton. Today, the state government reported 65 new locally acquired COVID-19 cases, a slight rise from the previous day's new case number of 61.
In regional Victoria, the outbreak in Shepparton grew to 21 COVID-19 cases by mid-afternoon Saturday.
North East Health also recorded a Covid case in Wangaratta at the weekend, reporting that the person was not a Wangaratta resident and would be transferred to Melbourne later today.
The escalating crisis in Victoria has prompted the state government to announce business support payments for regional businesses amid their fifth shutdown of the year.
*This edition of The Informer was written by The Canberra Times journalist Doug Dingwall. If you'd like to show your support for the team behind The Informer, why not forward us to a friend?
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