On a day when hordes of Novocastrians seemingly ignored social distancing advice and soaked up the sun at the city's beaches, 22 new cases of COVID-19 were confirmed in the Hunter New England Health District.
The update for the 24-hour period to 8pm Saturday brought the total number of COVID-19 cases in the Hunter New England to 189.
Of those, 150 were acquired overseas, 25 were from a confirmed case, 11 were acquired locally from an unknown source and three are under investigation. Two people have recovered, eight are in hospital with five in intensive care.
Hunter New England Health medical controller Dr Paul Craven said it was "a real shame" to hear of people in close proximity around the city on Sunday as "that is going to spread the virus".
"This is real," he said. "Some people don't recognise it's real. Maybe younger people aren't getting as affected as much, but this is extremely serious for people with chronic diseases and also older people.
"Younger people going out into crowds and spreading it, is something we have to try and get the message out to say, 'please, social distance, don't go out and pay attention to what people are saying'. We can slow this down, and if we slow it down we certainly won't see as many people severely unwell or deaths in our community."
Mr Craven said said it was not "unreasonable to do some exercise" but people should avoid the most popular areas of the city.
"We live in an area where we can spread out," he said.
The 22 cases revealed on Sunday came after 25 were confirmed on Saturday.
There was some confusion over the weekend after case numbers released by Hunter New England Health for local government areas on Friday were contradicted by NSW Health data 24 hours later.
On Friday, the health district released a breakdown that showed 31 cases in Lake Macquarie and 14 in Cessnock. But on Saturday, its update linked to NSW Health data which showed 27 cases in Lake Macquarie and 12 in Cessnock.
A Hunter New England Health spokesman said the anomalies were the result of the health district's figures on Friday including more recent confirmed cases.
"To avoid any confusion, moving forward we will be operating off the NSW Health LGA breakdown," he said.
The media release from Hunter New England Health on Friday also referenced Great Lakes and Greater Taree, despite those local government areas no longer existing. They are part of Mid Coast Council.
The Newcastle Herald understands that was the result an old map of council areas being used when the figures were broken down.