Sydney people will start pouring into regional NSW from Monday, but the state appears to have timed its run perfectly as cases fall and the double-dose vaccination rate climbs beyond 87 per cent.
Hunter New England Health reported 33 new cases on Sunday, its lowest tally in more than five weeks.
NSW recorded just 177 new infections in the 24 hours to 8pm on Saturday, the lowest count since July 30, 93 days ago. Only 84 of the new cases were in Sydney.
Meanwhile, the state's double-dose coverage for those aged 16 and over is 87.7 per cent. Almost 62 per cent of children aged 12 to 15 also have had two doses.
The government's decision to delay regional travel to and from Sydney for two weeks until Monday has allowed the state to reach an adult vaccination rate 7.7 percentage points higher than the 80 per cent target identified in its reopening "road map".
The Hunter's adult full vaccination rate was 83 per cent a week ago and now is likely close to the NSW average, though the indigenous population has a double-dose rate in the low 70s.
The Hunter's latest daily tally of 33 infections was the lowest since September 25 but was still the most of any state health district.
South Western Sydney recorded 25 and Murrumbidgee 22.
Eleven of the fresh HNEH cases were in Lake Macquarie council area, six in Newcastle, five each in Maitland and Cessnock, four in Port Stephens, one in Singleton and one in Tamworth.
Suburbs with multiple new cases included Jewells (4), Gillieston Heights (3) and Blacksmiths, North Lambton, East Maitland, Cessnock, Tanilba Bay and Raymond Terrace with two.
Twenty-four of the cases were infectious in the community and 10 were not linked to known cases.
HNEH is treating 21 patients in hospital, including four in intensive care.
"We urge anyone who is currently isolating in the community with COVID-19 to call for an ambulance should they experience a deterioration in their condition, including breathlessness and dizziness," a HNEH spokesperson said on Sunday.
NSW Health said it had found virus fragments in sewage at Dungog and warned the town's residents to look out for symptoms.
An unvaccinated woman in her 70s from south-western Sydney died at Concord Hospital during the 24-hour reporting period.
HNEH reported 73 cases on Saturday, including 19 in Lake Macquarie, 14 in MidCoast council area, nine in Tamworth, eight in Cessnock, six in Maitland and Port Stephens, five in Newcastle, three in Armidale, two in Singleton and one in Inverell.
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