A man in his 40s from the Maitland area has died of COVID-19, bringing the region's death toll to 11 during the latest outbreak.
The man, who had not been vaccinated and had underlying health conditions, died in Maitland Hospital.
"Tragically, we've had another COVID-19 death," Hunter New England Health public health controller Dr David Durrheim said.
"This brings to a total of fourth deaths in the past four days, and I'd like to personally extend my heartfelt sympathies to the families and friends of these people who have sadly and tragically died due to COVID-19."
Dr Durrheim said COVID-19 was a serious illness with a mortality rate 10 times higher than influenza.
The Hunter New England Health district recorded 62 new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, more than a third of them in Lake Macquarie.
The new cases included 22 in Lake Macquarie LGA, 10 in Newcastle, eight in Cessnock, seven in Maitland, five in both MidCoast and Tamworth, three in Port Stephens and two in Singleton.
Forty of the new cases were infectious in the community.
Hunter and New England hospitals are treating 24 COVID patients, including three in intensive care.
NSW reported 283 new cases and seven deaths in the 24 hours to 8pm on Tuesday.
The state's over-16 adult full vaccination rate stands at 81.6 per cent, and the nation has passed the 70 per cent milestone.
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Premier Dominic Perrottet announced a half-billion-dollar package to support the tourism and events industry as the state emerges from lockdowns.
The package includes:
- $250 million for the expanded Stay & Rediscover scheme providing a $50 voucher to all NSW adults to redeem at accommodation premises across NSW;
- $150 million to support the recovery of major event activity across the state, including $50 million for a Regional Events Package to support major events, festivals, agricultural shows and community events across the regions;
- $60 million for an Aviation Attraction Fund to incentivise international airlines to resume flights to Sydney, though the Newcastle Herald understands some of this money could be available to Newcastle Airport;
- $6 million to bring business events back to Sydney;
- $50 million for the CBDs Revitalisation Program to support events and activations in CBDs across Greater Sydney and surrounds;
- An Event Saver Fund to provide immediate support to organisers if events are cancelled or disrupted by any public health orders during the 2021-22 summer;
- $25 million for the Festival Relaunch package to "stabilise" established commercial and not-for-profit festivals, big and small, so they can "program with confidence" into 2022-23; and
- $10 million for a Recovery Marketing Campaign, including an extension of the successful road trips campaign launched in 2020.
The region's peak business organisation, Business Hunter, welcomed the announcement.
"Business Hunterhas been telling government since the start of the pandemic that different industries were being impacted in different ways, but our tourism, hospitality and events sector has been the hardest hit," chief executive officer Bob Hawes said.
"What is particularly pleasing is this package has elements which recognise that all of NSW has a part to play in the economic recovery through re-engagement of regional events and tourism.
"Business Hunter will also be advocating for the satellite CBD revitalisation inclusion in the package to be extended to major regional CBDs including Newcastle, Lake Macquarie and Maitland, not just Greater Sydney outer metro cities."
Mr Hawes said Business Hunter expected the aviation fund to include Newcastle and other regional airports.
"We've been working closely with the Newcastle Airport team to put a proposal to the former treasurer, now Premier, regarding attracting new routes into our region.
"We know increased air connectivity has an immediate and significant flow-on benefit for regional economies.
"With long-haul international flights into Newcastle now only 24 months away, the opportunities for the state are boundless, particularly given we share road and freight connections with western, north-western and northern NSW."