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  • NSW records 22,577 new COVID-19 cases

    Author: AAP

NSW has recorded another 22,577 COVID cases and four deaths as the state's huge outbreak continues to surge.

It is another daily case record, surpassing Friday's 21,151.

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Four deaths were recorded, while 901 people are hospitalised and 79 are in intensive care.

The deaths were three women and one man; one was in their 60s, one in their 70s and two in their 80s. Two of them had received two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine.

One woman, in her 80s, was a resident of North Parramatta's Lilian Wells Nursing Home, the second death linked to an outbreak at that facility.

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There are 901 people in hospital with COVID, 79 of which are in intensive care and 26 on ventilators.

Some 93.6 per cent of adult NSW residents have now had two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine, while the 12-to-15-year-old age bracket has moved to 78.2 per cent having received two doses.

Testing numbers to 8pm on New Year's Eve were down to 119,278, from 148,410 a day prior.

The rising case numbers come as Premier Dominic Perrottet continues to focus on hospitalisation and intensive care numbers rather than the daily case total.

At the peak of the Delta outbreak, on September 21, there were 1266 people hospitalised with infections, and 244 in intensive care.

Despite comprising about six per cent of the population, unvaccinated people make up the majority of those in intensive care, Health Minister Brad Hazzard said.

To ensure hospital systems can cope, asymptomatic health workers who are in isolation due to being a close contact of a positive case will be permitted to leave isolation in "exceptional circumstances", NSW Health announced on Friday night.

The exemption to the public health order, signed off by Mr Hazzard, means close contacts can leave self-isolation to attend work if they have been identified by their employer as critical and unable to work from home.

The exemption allows them to travel from home to work, and if they develop symptoms they have to get a PCR test and cannot return to work until they test negative.

Chief Health Officer Kerry Chant warned earlier in the week there were probably more cases than health authorities knew about as testing systems remain backlogged by a huge demand for tests in the lead-up to Christmas.

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