HUNTER residents will find out today how life in the region will look for the foreseeable future after NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian foreshadowed a "comprehensive shutdown" of the state and a closure of all non-essential services, which seems destined to include schools as early as Tuesday.
Ms Berejiklian said details of the plan would be announced on Monday.
The major step up in precautions comes as Hunter New England Health revealed the region had recorded 30 confirmed COVID-19 cases as of 8pm on Saturday, a 1400 per cent increase in the region's incidences in a week. The health service initially reported eight new cases on Saturday, but later said there was an additional four confirmed cases.
The 12 new diagnosed cases is by far the highest single day total for the Hunter since the start of the coronavirus crisis, representing a 66 per cent increase in one day and making up 40 per cent of the total number of confirmed cases. The total number of cases has exploded over the past seven days, with 28 of the 30 confirmed cases diagnosed since March 16.
The new confirmed cases come as local health officials announce there could already be some "low level spread" in the community and as NSW experienced its biggest jump in infections in a 24-hour period.
NSW Health authorities have identified 97 new coronavirus infections in the state, taking the total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases to 533. In a brief statement, Ms Berejiklian said she planned to inform the National Cabinet on Sunday night that NSW would "proceed to a more comprehensive shutdown of non-essential services". The premier said supermarkets, petrol stations and pharmacies are among the businesses that will stay open.
Schools will remain open on Monday, although further announcements are planned.
Hunter New England Health public health physician Dr David Durrheim said six of the 12 new local cases were in home isolation.
Two were in hospital.
Information about the four additional cases was not available. Dr Durrheim said the majority of the region's confirmed cases had come from exposure to the virus overseas, or close contact with known COVID-19 cases.
"But there are a few where the source of infection has not been able to be determined. This means there could be some low level spread in the community," Dr Durrheim said.
"Now is the time to really social distance. Step back. No touch. Wash your hands. Don't go out with a cold, a fever or a cough."
Among the new cases in Hunter New England are a female in her 20s, a woman in her 50s, a man in his 60s and a woman in her 70s.
A female in her 60s is receiving care at John Hunter Hospital after being in contact with a confirmed case in Sydney.
And a male in his 20s - a close contact of a confirmed case - is currently in home isolation.
A female in her 70s is in home isolation after returning from Vietnam and Cambodia, and a female in her late teens has been confirmed with COVID-19 after returning from Europe.
Meanwhile, a Hunter family has described life in isolation after both parents tested positive for COVID-19.
Jonathan (last name withheld) and his wife were two of the first confirmed cases of coronavirus in the Hunter after attending a wedding a fortnight ago.
"We started to hear a few days after that there was possible cases of COVID from the wedding," Jonathan says in a Hunter New England Health video. "At that stage it was a bit of hearsay.
"When we started to hear through official routes there were confirmed cases from the wedding, that - combined with the fact we had some mild cold symptoms - we decided to get tested.
"We have been isolated from the time we knew we were at risk of having it."
He said the public health team had been very thorough in contacting anyone they had been in contact with that was deemed to be at risk.