A rush to screening centres prompted by two high school closures in Newcastle has not yet produced a new confirmed coronavirus case.
Hunter New England Health confirmed that the family cluster that closed St Pius X at Adamstown and St Francis Xavier's at Hamilton had not spread by late Friday.
Three brothers in the family have tested positive but not their parents.
"This is a major wake-up call for all Novocastrians and a really good reminder that we have measures that work really well," HNEH public health physician Dr David Durrheim said.
"We saw in the first phase that standing back, making sure we didn't hug or shake hands and made sure when we touched a surface that had been touched by others we made sure we washed our hands.
"Those things served us really well, and we really need to go back to that. We need to avoid crowded areas, and, if we can't, then a face mask is an additional measure, but it doesn't replace all the other more important measures."
NSW reported 11 new cases in the 24 hours to 8pm on Thursday and has averaged 12 cases in the past five days.
Victoria reported 450 new cases and 11 deaths. The southern state now accounts for 181 of the 266 COVID-19 deaths in Australia, and 151 of those 181 fatalities have occurred since July 1.
The older brother, 20, went to several nightspots before testing positive, as did a Sydney construction worker who visited Newcastle last week.
The youngest brother, a player in the Jets Academy under-15 team, had 140 close contacts after playing soccer in Sydney last weekend and catching the bus to school on Monday.
The middle brother was found to have 120 close contacts after attending school from Monday to Wednesday but did not go anywhere else considered to present a risk to the public.
"It's got rather close to all of us, I think," Dr Durrheim said.
"I think everyone in Newcastle now knows someone who's been affected, because having two large schools affected and a large number of pubs and clubs as well has put everyone on alert."
The Hunter now has three family clusters, a group of seven at Port Stephens, three in Lake Macquarie and the Newcastle brothers.
"It's probably a reawakening for us that the virus can get back into our community and really shake us up and really do the things that we did so well during the first phase of the pandemic."
Dr Durrheim said testing numbers had been "fantastic" and all public and private screening centres had been "under the pump". But he cautioned people not to get tested unnecessarily.
"We prefer that the high-priority people are really prioritised," he said.
"We understand people do get concerned and they want to get tested. Anybody who's not a close contact or hasn't been in one of those venues who has no symptoms doesn't need to be tested."
Evidence from Australia and overseas suggests the virus spreads less rapidly among children at school than it does through the elderly in nursing homes, offering hope the latest Newcastle cases may not lead to significant outbreaks.
NSW Health announced on Friday that anyone who had been in Newcastle local government area in the past 14 days would not be able to visit any aged-care facility in NSW until further notice.
"We want to keep it, if at all possible, out of aged care. It's horribly destructive, as we've seen in Melbourne and in Sydney," Dr Durrheim said.
Dr Durrheim congratulated sports organisations for taking a cautious approach and said people should wear masks as long as they maintained good hand hygiene.
The Australian Medical Association said the NSW government should tighten restrictions on indoor gatherings and urged people to wear masks in public.
"We know this sounds like a lot to ask of the community, but the alternative to this could very well be Victorian-style stage-four lockdowns," AMA president Dr Omar Khorshid said.
Masks have become common in public spaces, shops and supermarkets in Newcastle this week, far more so than during the first wave of the pandemic in April.
AMA NSW president Dr Danielle McMullen said people should cover their faces, particularly indoors.
The government now recommends wearing masks in shops, on public transport, in places of worship and in areas where there has been community transmission.
Dr Durrheim said the recent emphasis on masks had nothing to do with ongoing scientific conjecture over whether the virus could be transmitted by tiny aerosol droplets floating around a room but was based on evidence that they reduced risk in high-transmission areas.
People should "vote with their feet" and avoid crowds.
"We all know what looks like a safe venue and what looks like a crowded venue, and we should be avoiding crowded venues."
Asked if sports teams such as the Jets juniors should be travelling to Sydney for games, Dr Durrheim said he agreed with Premier Gladys Berejiklian that unnecessary travel should be avoided.
"That's an assessment that every one of the sporting associations is going to need to make, is can they do this in a way that is safe," he said.
The Jets have postponed this weekend's junior and youth team matches.
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