NSW COVID-19 case numbers have "stabilised" and the government has eased several more pandemic restrictions, but health authorities warned on Sunday that the virus was spreading in parts of the state.
The Hunter recorded 13 new cases, including four in Maryville, two in Merewether and one each in Newcastle East, New Lambton, Tarro, Dora Creek, Mount Hutton, West Wallsend and Metford.
Nine of the new cases were infectious in the community, four have not been linked to previous cases and two are under investigation.
The Hunter's Sunday tally was better than the 30 and 24 positive tests reported on the previous two days, but the region's case count has risen steadily since dropping to zero on August 26.
Hunter New England Health district has recorded 434 cases since August 5, substantially more than the 278 cases in the region in the first wave of the pandemic from March to May last year.
NSW registered 1083 new cases in the 24 hours to 8pm on Saturday night, the lowest daily figure in more than three weeks and a substantial drop on the previous day's count of 1331.
The Newcastle Herald reported last week that several types of modelling pointed to cases having peaked in NSW about September 7.
"It is very encouraging," deputy chief health officer Dr Jeremy McAnulty said on Sunday. "The numbers today are fewer than the case numbers we had yesterday.
"We don't want to jump the gun. We do like to see several days before we can call it a trend, but certainly cases overall have stabilised and appear to be dropping in some areas where we have had rapidly increasing vaccination uptake as well as good compliance."
But he said the Illawarra, which reported 64 cases on Sunday, and the Central Coast (20), showed the case trend was "inconsistent".
The fall in the statewide count, not to mention increasing pressure over the plight of western Sydney residents, prompted Premier Gladys Berejiklian to announce that restrictions in the 12 Sydney areas of concern would ease in line with the rest of the city and that public pools across NSW would open on September 27, the start of the second week of the school holidays.
Ms Berejiklian also revealed that 17 per cent of the state's 390,000 children aged 12 to 15 had received a vaccine dose since Pfizer became available for this age group on September 13.
NSW reported a record 13 deaths from COVID-19 in the 24 hours to 8pm Saturday, including one person in their 40s, two in their 50s, two in their 60s, five in their 70s and three in their 80s.
All of the deaths were in Sydney except for one in Dubbo.
Nine of the people who died were not vaccinated, two had received one dose of a vaccine and two, a man in his 80s and a woman in her 70s, both with underlying health conditions, had received two doses.
The state has reported 241 COVID-related deaths in NSW since June 16 and 297 since the start of the pandemic.
Of the state's new locally acquired cases:
- 302 are from South Western Sydney Local Health District (LHD)
- 293 are from Western Sydney LHD
- 159 are from South Eastern Sydney LHD
- 115 are from Sydney LHD
- 64 are from Illawarra Shoalhaven LHD
- 48 are from Nepean Blue Mountains LHD
- 26 are from Northern Sydney LHD
- 20 are from Central Coast LHD
- 13 are from Hunter New England LHD
- 10 are from Far West LHD
- eight are from Western NSW LHD
- seven are from Southern NSW LHD
- three are from Mid North Coast LHD
- one is from Northern NSW LHD
- eight are in correctional settings
- six cases are yet to be assigned to an LHD.
Of the 267 active cases in the Hunter, 17 are in hospital and two are in intensive care.
Hunter New England Health issued new exposure sites overnight, including PRP Diagnostic Imaging, Adamstown, on September 14 from 8.20 to 9.30am; Simply Pharmacy, Toronto, on September 14 from 4.10 to 4.30pm and September 15 from 12.15 to 12.45pm; Woolworths Mayfield on September 11 from 8.10 to 8.40pm and September 12 from 8.05 to 8.45pm; and Lake Macquarie Specialist Medical Centre, Gateshead, on September 8 from 8.30 to 9.30am.
Across NSW, 81.9 per cent of the over-16 population has received a first vaccine dose and 51.9 per cent are fully vaccinated. These vaccine rates are to midnight on Friday.
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