NSW records 251 COVID-19 cases, no deaths

VideoThere are fears the Omicron variant will spread through NSW after a woman who has since tested positive visited a busy shopping centre

NSW has recorded 251 news cases of COVID-19 and no deaths as the government introduces tough new penalties for people who don’t comply with testing and quarantine measures, as the state deals with the Omicron variant.

NSW Health says there were 85,403 tests undertaken in the 24-hours until Tuesday.

Some 94.6 per cent of people 16 and older have had vaccine dose, while 92.5 per cent of adults are fully jabbed.

More than 81 per cent of teenagers 12-15 have had one vaccine dose, while 76.7 per cent have had both.

There are 154 people in hospital, 25 of them in ICU.

Meanwhile, penalties for people who don’t comply with testing and quarantine measures have jumped five-fold after a woman infected with the Omicron variant unknowingly carried it into the community.

On Wednesday, the penalty for non-compliance with isolation, testing and quarantine requirements increased from $1000 for individuals to $5000, and doubled from $5000 to $10,000 for corporations.

Premier Dominic Perrottet said it’s a necessary precaution while the world waits to find out more about Omicron.

“We are well prepared here in NSW, but it is important we take the necessary steps to protect the community and adopt measures that will allow us to learn to live with COVID,” he said.

A fully-vaccinated woman in her 30s became the state’s fifth confirmed Omicron case on Tuesday, and unlike the two cases confirmed on each of the previous two days, she had visited a number of shopping centres, supermarkets and fast food outlets on Friday and Saturday last week, after travelling from southern Africa.

The woman is isolating at home on the Central Coast and won’t be fined because she arrived before new mandatory quarantine came into effect.

Things changed on Saturday, when federal Health Minister Greg Hunt announced people arriving from South Africa, Lesotho, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Namibia, Eswatini and Malawi are required to enter hotel quarantine for two weeks.

The other four people NSW Health genomically confirmed have the Omicron variant are in special health accommodation.

Two more people on the woman’s Thursday flight from Doha have also since tested positive, and neither of them had been in southern Africa.

Urgent genomic testing is under way to see if they have the Omicron variant.

But changes have also been made by NSW and Victoria to keep Omicron out of their communities after months-long lockdowns sparked by the infiltration of the Delta variant earlier this year.

NSW requires all international arrivals be tested and isolate for 72 hours at a nominated address or accommodation.

They can stop isolating if they have tested negative at the end of the 72 hours, but it will be a short stint of freedom as they will be required to isolate again while waiting for results of another test on their sixth day in the country.

NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard says those eligible for booster shots should be booking in appointments to get the jab, calling boosters “our best defence against what can be a deadly virus”.

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