August jabs 'ticket to freedom': premier

Gladys Berejiklian appealed to all NSW adults to get vaccinated to end the strategy of lockdowns.
Gladys Berejiklian appealed to all NSW adults to get vaccinated to end the strategy of lockdowns.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian has pleaded with NSW on the first day of August to help break records for vaccination numbers this month and secure the state's 'ticket to freedom'.

"One dose itself reduces your chance of spreading the virus but it also keeps you out of hospital," Ms Berejiklian said on Sunday. "We know that vaccination is working against this terrible Delta strain."

Greater Sydney and surrounding regions are in lockdown until at least August 28.

There were 239 locally acquired cases recorded in the 24 hours to 8pm on Saturday in NSW as infections continued to spread across households, around workplaces and into aged care facilities.

Of the new cases, 115 are linked to a known case or cluster while 92 are household contacts and 23 are close contacts. The source of infection for 124 cases is under investigation.

Late on Sunday, there were reports that a dozen residents at a nursing home in Sydney's inner west had tested positive for COVID and been taken to hospital as a precaution.

A staff member at the Hardi aged care home in Summer Hill had tested positive for the virus last week, according to media reports.

The premier said lockdown was "damn hard" but the strategy was to get vaccination rates up to 80 per cent and in the previous 24 hours more than 82,000 people in NSW had been jabbed.

The premier defended the government's decision to divert Pfizer vaccines from regional NSW to year 12 students in Sydney's west and southwest so they could finish their exams.

NSW Health's Dr Jeremy McAnulty said on Sunday that four of the 14 people who have died in this current outbreak did so in their homes and not at a hospital.

The 14th death, recorded on Saturday, was a man in his 60s who died at home in southwest Sydney.

"The message is don't wait, if you have any even mild symptoms, come forward for testing right away," Dr McAnulty said.

There are currently 222 COVID-19 cases admitted to hospital in NSW. Of these, 54 people are in intensive care, 25 of whom require ventilation.

Dr McAnulty also confirmed there were multiple aged care facilities across Sydney where staff and residents had been infected including nine residents at an aged care facility in Summer Hill in the city's inner-west.

Many of the new cases were from areas in Sydney with tighter restrictions -- 110 were from south-west Sydney and 51 from western Sydney. However 69 were from Sydney's CBD, three from south-east Sydney, four from north Sydney and two were reported in the Blue Mountains.

Earlier on Sunday NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard said authorities would not extend five kilometre travel limits and outdoor mask rules beyond the current eight council areas despite calls to do so from Australian Medical Association president Omar Khorshid.

"We're trying to strike a balance and I think the balance is appropriate," Mr Hazzard told ABC's Insiders program on Sunday.

When asked about his previous comments that some Sydney families were turning up to hospitals with a COVID-19 infected relative who is "not alive but dead" the minister said he would not reveal the details of particular cases.

"All I'll say is that there was broad infection in the family and there was no effort to get to health authorities, as I understand it, until it was too late," Mr Hazzard said.

He acknowledged there was a reluctance for those in large "refugee family groups" with fewer income earners to come forward to health authorities.

There were 87,712 COVID-19 tests reported to 8pm on Saturday night.

Saturday marked the end of a fortnight-long enforced break for the construction sector, with work allowed to resume on non-occupied sites provided COVID-safe plans are in force.

Australian Associated Press