NSW records deadliest day of the COVID pandemic and at least 20,000 new infections

A child under five is among 18 COVID-19 deaths recorded in New South Wales on Monday – marking the state’s deadliest day since the pandemic began.

An all-time high of 16 deaths was reported on Sunday, but the record was broken 24 hours later when another 18 fatalities were recorded on Monday. The deaths include six women, 11 men and a child.

Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant said the child from south-western Sydney who died at home had “significant underlying health conditions”.

A man in his 30s from eastern Sydney also died at Prince of Wales Hospital. Dr Chant said the man was not vaccinated, and she had not been briefed as to whether he had underlying health conditions.

“I express my sincere condolences to those who have lost their loved ones,” she told reporters.

Hospitalisations increased by more than 100 to 2030 in the 24 hours to 8pm on Sunday, up from 1927 the day before.

Of those in hospital, 159 are in intensive care – an increase of eight, but still lower than the peak of 244 in September – with 47 requiring ventilation.

There were also 20,293 new infections reported from 84,333 conventional PCR lab tests to 8pm on Sunday. No data is available yet from rapid antigen tests.

The true growth of infections across NSW is likely far higher, with most people encouraged to take rapid, at-home tests instead of the conventional PCR.

“That clearly is an underestimate as people are moving and transitioning to rapid antigen testing, that is hopefully freeing up a lot of PCR testing for those who need it,” Dr Chant said.

There is no way to report rapid test results in NSW yet, with the system due to come online mid-week, at which point case numbers are expected to surge again.

Over the weekend, health authorities announced changes to workplace restrictions and transport timetables in a bid to ease the impact of rising case numbers on the delivery of critical services.

Food logistics and manufacturing staff furloughed as close contacts are now allowed to leave self-isolation to attend work if they have no symptoms.

They also have to wear a mask and comply with risk-management strategies including daily rapid antigen tests or RATs.

The new rules apply to critical workers in biosecurity and food safety, the production and manufacturing of food, beverages, groceries, cleaning and sanitary products, and food logistics, delivery and grocery fulfilment.