The Hunter's COVID-19 outlook deteriorated further on the weekend as the region piled on 26 new cases, most of them in Port Stephens.
Nineteen of the new cases were infectious in the community, raising fears the count will rise before the government decides this week which regions will escape lockdown on Saturday.
Hunter New England Health reported 15 new cases on Saturday and 12 on Sunday, including one in Armidale flagged as a likely false positive.
Port Stephens local government area is the new epicentre of the Hunter outbreak after adding 10 cases on Saturday and seven on Sunday.
Most of the new cases were linked to two clusters at Shoal Bay and the Motto Farm Motel at Heatherbrae.
Upper Hunter shire recorded its first COVID-19 case, at Gundy, though this person was in isolation during their infectious period.
Dungog council area's first case in the latest outbreak of the delta strain was identified in Clarence Town and was infectious in the community.
Dungog Bowling Club will now host a drive-through testing clinic by booking only on Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings.
Other new Hunter cases infectious in the community included six at Shoal Bay, three at Thornton, two each at Heatherbrae and Fingal Bay and single cases at Abermain, Metford, Nelson Bay, Medowie and Balcolyn.
The latest round of sewage testing last Wednesday revealed viral traces for the first time at Nelson Bay's treatment plant and at Cessnock.
Belmont, Dora Creek, Raymond Terrace, Maitland (Morpeth), Newcastle (Burwood) and Branxton continued to show viral traces, but the Farley and Kurri Kurri plants tested negative.
Virus traces reappeared at the Edgeworth plant.
HNEH announced on Sunday that a confirmed case had unknowingly visited the Belmont vaccination hub while infectious on Friday from 11.45am to 12.45pm.
Anyone who was at the hub at this time must get a test and isolate until they receive a negative result. They must also take a second test on Wednesday.
The Newcastle Herald understands a Centennial Coal employee listed on Friday as a positive case has since returned a negative test result.
The employee worked at the Mandalong mine near Morisset last week. HNEH has removed one case attributed on Friday to New Lambton but would not confirm if this was the mineworker.
NSW recorded 1485 new cases on Sunday as the state reached a 40 per cent rate of adult double-dose vaccination.
More than 73 per cent of the over-16 population has received one dose.
Three more people died of COVID-19 in western and south-western Sydney.
The fatalities included a woman in her 50s who had received one vaccine dose, an unvaccinated man in his 70s and an unvaccinated woman in her 70s.
The delta outbreak of the virus has claimed 126 lives since June 16.
NSW hospitals are treating 1030 COVID-19 cases, including 175 in intensive care and 72 on ventilators. Eight COVID-19 patients are in John Hunter Hospital but none are in ICU.
Premier Gladys Berejiklian, addressing concerns about the growing strain on hospital resources, said the government would release modelling this week which would include the predicted peaks in cases, hospitalisations and intensive care loads in the coming weeks.
"We have great resources in terms of our surge capacity," she said.
"What we've prepared for, and what we think is going to happen, there is a big gap in that.
"There'll be strong evidence to give the community information that we are well and truly prepared."
Asked where new supplies of the Pfizer vaccine would go, Ms Berejiklian said west and south-west Sydney were still the government's focus.
"We know that the most authorised workers are actually coming out of those areas of concern, and that's where the virus is spreading most of all.
"If we want to see the rate of contagiousness reduce, we have to make sure we vaccinate people in those areas of concern as a priority."
She said Pfizer supply would "not be an issue" by October and a "gap in supply in September" had been "closed".
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