NSW records 1,351 COVID-19 cases and 12 deaths; Lismore and Albury LGAs go back into lockdown

© (ABC News: Rani Hayman) Authorities on site at the Redfern social housing site this morning.

Large parts of regional NSW have come out of lockdown today but some will have restrictions re-imposed after the state recorded 1,351 new COVID-19 cases.

The state recorded 12 deaths but deputy chief health officer Marianne Gale said she was “cautiously optimistic” the outbreak had peaked.

Deputy Premier John Barilaro said it was a “good day” for much of rural and regional NSW with 12 local government areas (LGA) regaining freedoms this afternoon.

From 1:00pm today stay-at-home orders no longer apply in Bega Valley, Blayney, Bogan, Cabonne, Dungog, Forbes, Muswellbrook, Narrabri, Parkes, Singleton, Snowy Monaro and Upper Hunter Shire LGAs.

These areas wil be able to enjoy relaxed restrictions around in-home gatherings, hospitality, retail, major events, mask wearing and school will also resume.

But Lismore, in the north-east of the state, and Albury, in southern NSW will go back into lockdown for seven days from 6:00pm today after recording new COVID-19 cases.

The two LGAs only came out of lockdown last Saturday.

Health Minister Brad Hazzard said a short lockdown was contingent on high testing rates.

“More often than not, [NSW] Health determines it will be 14 days but at this case, looking at the issues, Health has determined that seven days will be appropriate but I’m just warning the community that it may be longer,” Mr Hazzard said.

“We need everybody in those two communities with any symptoms at all to come forward and get tested because that will allow Health to make well structured decisions based on the information available.”

Dr Gale said there were two COVID-19 cases in Albury that were still under investigation but may have links to Sydney.

She said the two cases appear to be unrelated to each other and there were now a number of exposure sites in the Albury area.

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There was one infection in Lismore and Mr Barilaro said it was related to an adult who returned to the area with her child.

Dr Gale said authorities had a “higher level of caution” for Lismore due to the higher degree of vaccine hesitancy in the area.

Residents in the Albury and Lismore LGAs must stay at home unless it is for an essential reason, which includes shopping for food, medical care, getting vaccinated, compassionate needs, exercise and work or tertiary education if you can’t work or study at home.

Albury and Lismore residents who are fully vaccinated can attend an outdoor gathering of up to five people for exercise or outdoor recreation as long as all of those aged 16 or older are fully vaccinated.

The re-imposed lockdown applies to anyone who has been in Albury since September 10 and Lismore since September 7.

The lllawarra Local Health District (LHD) saw the biggest case growth in the latest reporting period with 44 new cases including 21 in Wollongong and in 20 Shellharbour.

In the Western LHD, there were 27 new cases, including 12 in Dubbo.

In the state’s Far West LHD, two new cases were identified in Broken Hill.

Mr Barilaro said health authorities were closely monitoring the situation in Glen Innes, on the Northern Tablelands, where one new case had been recorded.

“We’ll do that in a measured way before a knee-jerk reaction about locking down an area,” he said.

In the 24 hours to 8:00pm yesterday 11 people died in hospitals and one, a woman in her 60s from south-western Sydney, died at home.

The youngest person to die was a man in his 40s from Western Sydney.

One of the people to die was a man in his 90s who was a resident at the Hardi Aged Care facility in Guildford, who was infected at the nursing home.

Dr Gale said a woman in her 60s who died yesterday had “significant” underlying health conditions.

“This lady had tested negative for COVID-19 in recent days,” she said.

“However, she was also in contact with people who did have COVID-19 so the circumstances of her death are being further investigated by the coroner.”

More than 200 people have died since the state’s Delta outbreak began in June.

Dr Gale said authorities were stepping up their efforts at three social housing towers in Redfern in inner Sydney where an outbreak had occurred.

Across the three towers, where 630 people live, 12 people have tested positive to COVID-19.

Dr Gale said about two-thirds of the residents had been vaccinated and health staff were back on site today for more testing and vaccination.

“There have been a lot of efforts going in to support residents of those buildings even before this outbreak occurred,” she said.

There are currently 1,231 COVID-19 cases admitted to hospital, with 231 people in intensive care, 108 of whom require ventilation.

There were 129,266 COVID-19 tests reported to 8pm last night, compared with the previous day’s total of 137,498.

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