The NSW government has announced the return of elective surgeries from Monday as the state recorded 12,818 new COVID-19 cases and 30 deaths in the 24 hours to 8pm.
The positive cases came from 7913 positive rapid antigen tests and 4905 positive PCR tests, which came from around 36,000 PCR tests conducted yesterday.
There are 2749 COVID-19 patients in hospital, with 186 in ICU, and 70 ventilated.
Hospitalisation numbers are down on yesterday, when 2779 patients were being cared for, however ICU numbers are up one, with 185 in ICU yesterday.
NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet announced non-urgent elective surgery would return from Monday, February 7, after being suspended on January 10.
The non-elective surgeries requiring an overnight stay would resume at 75 per cent capacity in private hospitals and 75 per cent of pre-pandemic levels at public hospitals in regional and rural NSW.
"The reintroduction of non-urgent elective surgery will be done in a phased manner to balance the ongoing potential need for extra capacity in our hospitals and the need for people in NSW to access their elective surgeries as quickly as possible," Mr Perrottet said.
"We recognise the effect these necessary restrictions have had on the lives of people requiring non-urgent elective surgery and I want to assure them we will be doing everything possible to return to full capacity in all of our hospitals as soon as possible."
Health Minister Brad Hazzard said regional NSW hospitals would return to elective surgeries first and metropolitan hospitals would remain focused on COVID patients for now.
He said private hospitals would retain some capacity to assist public hospitals by taking patients if necessary and would also continue to take public patients for non-urgent elective surgery to ensure equity of access.
Acting Deputy Secretary of NSW Health Wayne Jones said where necessary local health districts might also re-impose temporary restrictions at a hospital "in the event of a local outbreak to ensure the community are kept safe and can access hospital care if required".
Mr Jones said patients due to receive non-urgent elective surgery who had been impacted by the restrictions were encouraged to seek medical attention should they experience a change in their condition so they could be clinically reviewed and re-prioritised to a more urgent category if required.
Chief Health Officer Kerry Chant said of the 30 deaths in the past 24 hours, 21 were men and nine were women.
One was aged in their 30s, one in their 50s, five in their 70s, 19 were in their 80s, and four were in their 90s.
"Five of the people who died had received three doses of the COVID vaccine, 19 people had received two doses and six were not vaccinated," Dr Chant said.
"The two people under the age of 65, a man in his 30s had received two doses of COVID vaccine and had no significant underlying health conditions, again highlighting the importance of a booster to really lift that protection and the woman in her 50s was not vaccinated and had underlying health conditions."
Speaking on the return to schools this week, Mr Perrottet said while parents were anxious it was important students were back at school.
"There can be nothing more important for our students school outcomes, but also social outcomes and mental health outcomes," Mr Perrottet said.
"The best thing we can do as a government and as a state is to ensure our kids are back in the classroom with their friends again.
"I know there will be bumps along the way... but the alternative is to have schools closed and that's not the outcome we want."
The state's population aged 16 years and over is now 94 per cent double vaccinated, while 95.4 per cent have had their first COVID-19 vaccine shot.
39.7 per cent have had their third dose of vaccine.
Those aged between 12 and 15 years are 78.5 per cent double vaccinated, while 83.2 per cent have had their first dose.
Of those aged 5 to 11 years old, 39.1 per cent have had their first vaccine dose.