NSW records 1035 new COVID-19 cases, two deaths

New South Wales has recorded 1035 new local COVID-19 cases in the last day and two more deaths.

More than 156,000 vaccine doses were administered and 129,000 tests conducted.

NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard thanked residents across the state.

"Thank you to all of our residents who have come forward for a vaccination. As we have said many times, vaccination is a critical path out of our current situation," he said.

READ MORE: Victoria records 64 new COVID-19 cases, exposure sites grow

https://twitter.com/NSWHealth/status/1431421379832791043?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw

The new deaths were a woman aged in her 70s from the Blue Mountains district who died at Nepean Hospital and a woman in her 80s who died at Westmead Hospital.

NSW Health's Dr Jeremy McAnulty confirmed that the woman who died at Nepean Hospital was the fourth death linked to the COVID-19 outbreak there.

She had received two doses of vaccination and also had serious underlying diseases.

Dr McAnulty said the other new death – a woman who died at Westmead – had not received a vaccine.

There have now been 83 COVID related deaths in NSW since the June 16, and 139 in total since the start the pandemic.

Of today's new cases, four have been detected in the Far West of NSW.

"All four of those were in Wilcannia. That means that we now have a total of 69 cases in the far west local health district," Mr Hazzard said.

Weddings to return

Mr Hazzard has announced that weddings will be allowed in NSW once again.

From 12.01am this coming Friday, weddings will be permitted provided that they are limited to no more than five guests.

"Obviously, the circumstances in New South Wales are such that while we are seeing massive vaccination numbers, we are also seeing substantial cases, and for a number of weeks now, we have had no capacity for people to get married," Mr Hazzard said.

"A decision has been taken that in a balanced sense, we have to be able to allow people who want to get married to get married.

"So as from 12.01am Friday this coming week, couples who wish to marry will be able to marry, but with minimal guests in attendance, so there will be five guests allowed in addition to those who obviously will be necessary for the actual service, so those officiating and perhaps a photographer to record the event, we will work through that during the course of the week."

NSW coronavirus restrictions weddings

Jabs no risk to fertility

Mr Hazzard has encouraged women who are thinking of having children to get a coronavirus vaccine, and dismissed suggestions the jabs pose a risk to fertility.

He advised women to follow the medical advice rather than social media commentary.

"I just want to confirm that the most senior health advisory service in Australia has confirmed absolutely, that there is no evidence whatsoever that a woman's fertility or a man's fertility would be in any way affected by having the vaccine," Mr Hazzard said.

"A strong point though that was made to me when I was enquiring about the evidence is that particularly young women and girls who are contemplating having a child should understand if they don't have the vaccine, and they do get the virus, they may suffer from long COVID or from symptoms that would actually make it more difficult to be able to have children, and to have as many children as they would like.

"The strong message here is don't believe what you are seeing in the social media, don't believe what is on some of these sites that indicate that the vaccines will cause any difficulty in you getting pregnant, it certainly won't. In fact, it's the opposite."

Anti-vax teachers risk being sacked

Teachers who refuse to receive COVID-19 vaccinations risk being barred from their job, Mr Hazzard warned.

The health minister was asked about reports that 10 per cent of teachers at NSW Christian schools are considering not getting the shots.

"I would just say to everybody out there within the amazing profession of being teachers, it really is essential that you go and get vaccinated," Mr Hazzard said.

"And I know there are some challenges in particular communities who have particular views but at the end of the day, vaccination is the way out of this."

Mr Hazzard said the state government would review teacher vaccinations ahead of the planned return to classroom schooling.

Ambulance demand reaching limit

Ambulances in NSW are being swamped with coronavirus-related calls, including some from residents being asked for a lift to vaccination clinics.

The head of the NSW Ambulance service, Dominic Morgan, said some of the emergency calls were unnecessary and putting people requiring genuine treatment at risk.

Dr Morgan said last night Ambulance NSW had its second ever status three alert, which means the service was unable to meet demand.

"When we receive calls that do not require an ambulance immediately, it can have dire consequences," he said.

"I have been advised this week that we had a 25 minute response to an 18-year-old cardiac arrest. This is devastating. Wherever possible we need to be avoiding this."

Last night alone, NSW Ambulance reached 2500 calls from coronavirus patients for this lockdown alone.

Dr Morgan said the past three days have been exhausting for the service, with 450 calls yesterday.

"Over the last three days, New South Wales ambulance has experienced call demand equivalent to our busiest New Year's Eve," Dr Morgan said.

"These are extraordinary times and it places great pressure on our staff when we receive some calls that may not be medical emergencies.

"Our triple-0 call operators have received calls to help take food to people's houses, Triple-0 cannot help you with this. We have received calls for people to be driven to vaccination centres, triple-0 cannot help you with this."

NSW Ambulance

Technical glitch to blame for vaccination cancellation in kids

A viral social media post is to blame for the cancellation of some vaccination bookings for NSW children.

The post said that the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital as having 100,000 Pfizer jabs that needed to be immediately used before expiring, resulting in a high volume of requests.

"Can I apologise for the inconvenience this has caused to people, we absolutely understand that people want to get their kids vaccinated as soon as possible, but yesterday a few things collided that resulted in some confusion," NSW Health official Susan Pearce said.

"One was a social media post that went around saying Royal Prince Alfred Hospital 100,000 Pfizer vaccines that were about to expire, that post contained a link, and there was a technical issue to make provision for 12 to 15-year-olds.

"What happened was these bookings were able to be made outside of the eligibility checker which has resulted in the issue, so we apologise for that."

Huge reduction in cases needed for return to school

Meanwhile, the return to school for NSW students is dependent on a huge reduction in daily COVID-19 cases, an infectious diseases expert has flagged.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian yesterday announced a staggered return to school for all students from late October.

But Professor Sanjaya Senenayake, Director of the Department of Infectious Diseases at Canberra Health Services told Today that the reopening of schools depends on a huge drop in cases.

READ MORE: Staggered return-to-school plan for NSW students

Primary school students may not go back to face-to-face learning this year.

Currently the NSW daily number ranges from the high hundreds to more than 1000.

"Obviously 1000 is far too much but I would have thought anything less than 50 would be worth considering," Professor Senenayake said.

He said ensuring low community transmission was crucial if schools were to reopen by the NSW Government's target date of October 25.

"I think the most important thing is to make sure that the background level of COVID in the community is low so not at the levels we have now," Professor Senenayake said.

Mandatory mask wearing for students and staff, vaccination for teachers and good ventilation in classrooms would be important measures.

"It is a warmer time of year so we can open windows and make sure classrooms are well ventilated or use other means to ensure safe ventilation and vaccination of teachers is going to be really important too," Professor Senenayake said.

READ MORE: More freedoms for fully vaccinated in NSW – What you need to know

NSW Education Minister Sarah Mitchell said students will return to school on level three restrictions.

This will involve minimal mixing and no extra adults on campus; no assemblies and large gatherings; and mask-wearing will be compulsory for all staff and all high school students.

Primary school students are also advised to wear masks.

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