MUSWELLBROOK is going back under lockdown conditions due to a rise in cases, NSW deputy premier John Barilaro has confirmed.
The area joins Port Macquarie in heading back under stay-at-home orders at 6pm on Tuesday for seven days.
"These orders apply to anyone who has been in the Port Macquarie & Muswellbrook LGAs since 17 September and 22 September respectively," Mr Barilaro said on social media.
Hunter cases have spiked again, with Dungog the only local government area in the region not to record a fresh infection on Tuesday.
There were 63 new cases detected in the 24 hours to 8pm Monday.
"It's a big number, and although we are still seeing a lot of transmission in family groups in households and between social groups we are seeing the emergence of clusters in workplaces," Hunter New England Health's Dr David Durrheim said.
"This is very similar to what we saw in western and southwestern Sydney. Industrial sites and fast food sites are really important in the Hunter New England region, and we really plead with people - do not go to work if you've got any symptoms or if you are a close contact of someone with COVID."
He said symptoms now "probably does mean it's COVID" given the flu was passing.
"Please don't take it and spread it around, go and get tested immediately," Dr Durrheim said.
It comes as vaccination data shows several parts of the region have passed 50 per cent fully vaccinated, but some still lag behind.
NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard had indicated earlier that both Muswellbrook and Port Macquarie could face extended restrictions.
"That work is being done this afternoon," he said at the 11am press conference on Tuesday.
"I would advise people in those areas to be very cautious."
Dr Marianne Gale said the areas were flagged due to a rising number of local cases and exposures.
"We are currently looking carefully at those situations and we will be providing recommendations," she said.
"If you live in those areas, please be vigilant. Come forward for testing."
Health authorities confirmed 35 of the new cases in the Hunter were infectious in the community, 38 were linked and the infectious status of 12 remained under investigation.
There are now 482 cases in the region, 14 in hospital, and 697 close contacts.
None of the region's COVID patients require intensive care, Hunter New England Health said.
Muswellbrook added one new case in Tuesday's update, while Port Stephens had six in Raymond Terrace, Medowie and Lemon Tree Passage.
Cessnock had four (Weston, Kurri Kurri and Heddon Greta) while Aberdeen in Upper Hunter shire and Singleton's Wattle Ponds both added a case each.
Newcastle's 19 cases are spread between Merewether, Warabrook, Cooks Hill, Mayfield, Elermore Vale, Adamstown Heights, Birmingham Gardens, Kotara, Georgetown, Hamilton North, Stockton, Beresfield and North Lambton.
In Lake Macquarie 18 cases span Cardiff, Blackalls Park, Cardiff South, Macquarie Hills, Windermere Park, Lakelands and Marmong Point.
Maitland's 13 cases fall within Metford, Thornton, East Maitland, Woodberry and Rutherford.
NSW added 863 new cases and seven deaths in Tuesday's 11am update, delivered by NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard.
Statewide, 85.7 per cent of the population over 16 has been vaccinated once.
IN THE NEWS:
- Newcastle, Hunter cases a concern as NSW 80 per cent roadmap laid out
- NSW COVID roadmap: what changes at 80 per cent and December 1
- Councils want passenger trains, new port rail link to be part of Lower Hunter Freight Corridor
- Normality beckons for vaxed-up NSW
- Police investigate after gun fired at Commodore at Mount Hutton
Fresh vaccination data by local government area shows 77 per cent of Cessnock residents have received a first dose and 42.5 per cent a second.
The area joins Muswellbrook (74.9 per cent and 39.5 per cent) and Singleton (79.9 per cent and 42.4 per cent) with the lowest first dose figures in the region.
Those three lag behind the remainder of the Hunter, where first dose rates are uniformly above 80 per cent and almost all boast half their adult population fully vaccinated.
That includes Newcastle (80.3 per cent and 52.6 per cent respectively), Port Stephens (85.8 per cent and 56.1 per cent), Dungog (83.5 per cent and 53.2 per cent), Lake Macquarie (85.4 per cent and 54.4 per cent), Maitland (82.2 per cent and 48.8 per cent) and Upper Hunter (88.9 per cent and 59 per cent).
Mr Hazzard said there had been "pickiness and choosiness" around vaccines that had hampered rates, but said he understood frustration among those who had struggled to get vaccinated feeling the roadmap had left them behind.
"I have had sympathy with that view .. but right now there is more vaccine available in this country that we could have probably dreamed of, actually, and more access across NSW than we dared dream of," he said.
Our journalists work hard to provide local, up-to-date news to the community. This is how you can continue to access our trusted content: