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Newcastle and Hunter add 16 COVID cases as NSW records 12 deaths, 1351 fresh infections

PARTS of the Hunter will escape lockdown on Thursday, NSW deputy premier John Barilaro has confirmed, despite two of the region's 202 active cases moving to intensive care.

Mr Barilaro confirmed a dozen NSW local government areas including Dungog, Muswellbrook, Singleton and Upper Hunter would leave lockdown on the eve of school holidays as part of a weekly review of regional areas.

He said the areas were eligible because they had not recorded fresh cases in 14 days and were deemed low risk.

They are due to exit lockdown conditions from 1pm, he said, but Hunter New England Health later added a Dungog sewage detection to its concerns over Karuah and Inverell.

The health service said the detection indicated "an infectious person being in those communities or having recently visited", encouraging anyone with even the mildest of symptoms to seek testing.

It comes amid shifting fortunes across the state, with Lismore and Albury headed back into the strictest conditions from 6pm.

Their lockdowns are due to last a week.

Infections continued to rise for the lower Hunter's five local government areas, with 16 fresh cases.

Hunter New England Health public health unit's Dr Rebecca Hogbin said the wide geographic spread of the region's cases gave authorities plenty to worry about.

"With so many people infectious in the community, as you'd expect many venues have been visited," she said.

"The venues team at the moment is prioritising workplaces.

"As you'd expect, when a case is infectious in a workplace they're there for a much longer period of time and they've had a lot more contact with their colleagues, so they're a really high priority for us to contact and get those casual contacts and close contacts tested as soon as possible."

Six of the Hunter New England Health district's new cases are from Lake Macquarie local government area, five from Newcastle, three from Cessnock, one from Gunnedah and one from Port Stephens.

Two of Lake Macquarie's cases were in Wangi Wangi, with one each in Arcadia Vale, Charlestown, Glendale and West Wallsend.

Mayfield's swelling case load grew by two, with new cases in Hamilton South, New Lambton and Elermore Vale.

Cessnock had two cases in Cliftleigh and one in Greta, while Port Stephens added a Boat Harbour case.

Hunter New England Health said two cases were in intensive care in the Hunter, with 14 of the region's 202 cases in hospital.

Nine of the fresh cases are linked, with seven under investigation.

Ten were infectious in the community, five were isolating and one remains under investigation.

There are 612 close contacts isolating in the region.

NSW deputy chief health officer Dr Marianne Gale also urged residents in Karuah to come forward for testing as sewage detection continued to indicate the virus was present in the area.

There were 23 fresh cases on the Central Coast.

A dozen people have died as NSW case numbers rose by 1351 in Thursday's statewide update, putting an end to days of stabilised new cases.

NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard said 10 of the 12 people who died were not vaccinated.

They include:

  • A man in his 90s from western Sydney died at Westmead Hospital. He acquired his infection at the Hardi Guildford Aged Care Facility. This is the second death linked to the outbreak at this facility.
  • A man in his 60s from western Sydney died at Northern Beaches Hospital.
  • A man in his 60s from south-western Sydney died at Northern Beaches Hospital.
  • A woman in her 80s from western Sydney died at Westmead Hospital.
  • A woman in her 80s from south-western Sydney died at Concord Hospital.
  • A woman in her 60s from south-eastern Sydney died at Prince of Wales Hospital.
  • A man in his 40s from western Sydney died at Nepean Hospital.
  • A woman in her 80s from western Sydney died at Westmead Hospital.
  • A woman in her 70s from western Sydney died at Nepean Hospital.
  • A man in his 70s from south-western Sydney died at Campbelltown Hospital.
  • A woman in her 60s from south-western Sydney died at home.
  • A man in his 50s from western Sydney died at Westmead Hospital.

80.1 per cent of the NSW population over 16 has received a first dose, and 48.5 of that population are fully vaccinated.

"I just want to thank the community for coming out in such big numbers because there are now almost 8 million people in NSW who have had their vaccine administered to them," Mr Hazzard said.

Hunter cases spiked to 27 daily cases in the 24 hours to 8pm on Tuesday, with a number of supermarkets subsequently named COVID exposure sites.

Clusters in the region have been growing in Mayfield and Tenambit.

This story Dungog, Singleton, Muswellbrook, Scone to exit COVID lockdown first appeared on Newcastle Herald.