Infant dies as NSW COVID-19 toll hits 1000

NSW has reported 25,168 new COVID-19 cases and a record 46 deaths.
NSW has reported 25,168 new COVID-19 cases and a record 46 deaths.

An infant with COVID-19 has died in NSW as the state reported 46 new deaths, taking it past the grim milestone of 1000 fatalities since the pandemic began.

The baby, from the Hunter New England region, died with the virus in December and the death is being investigated by the coroner, authorities confirmed on Friday.

Chief Health Officer Kerry Chant said the findings will be released once the family and clinicians are informed of "the contribution that COVID may or may not have made".

The previous youngest-known coronavirus fatality in NSW was that of a three-year-old boy with a rare genetic disease who died in January after testing positive for the virus.

The state reported the deaths of 33 men and 13 women on Friday, taking its overall pandemic toll to 1024.

Seven of those deaths occurred between December 29 and January 13 and were reported following coronial investigations.

The infant who died is not included in Friday's figures as the coronial investigation has not been finalised.

More than a quarter of NSW's COVID-19 deaths have been reported in the past two weeks, during which 324 people have died.

The state on Friday also reported 25,168 new cases, including 15,153 from positive PCR tests.

Premier Dominic Perrottet said "there are some reassuring signs" despite the high fatality figure.

Hospitalisations dropped again to 2743 on Friday, having fallen for the first time since December 13 on Thursday.

Government modelling has the state tracking better than its envisioned "best-case scenario" that projected more than 3000 people in hospital and 270 in ICU.

"The figure today provides some reassurance in terms of the situation here in NSW," Mr Perrottet said.

There are still capacity and workforce issues in hospitals however the number of frontline workers available is increasing.

The number of furloughed workers has dropped below 5000, after previously being more than 6000, the premier said.

Dr Chant said the state can still expect to see high death numbers over the coming weeks as there is a "significant lag" of around two to three weeks between someone testing positive and dying.

Despite the death-rate hitting record highs, there are "promising" signs the state is past the worst of the outbreak, Deakin University epidemiologist Catherine Bennett told AAP.

Case numbers are unlikely to drop rapidly, as you would expect with a peak, but Prof Bennett said infections seem to have plateaued.

"It's really complicated because of the changes to testing protocols, and availability of testing has been a problem," she said.

"But all the indicators, while none of them are truly reliable and they've all shifted around, are looking good."

Prof Bennett said ICU admissions and the number of people on ventilators are the two important figures to watch.

"People when they go on to a ventilator, instead of it being a short-term ICU visit, they're in there for weeks," she said.

"When our ventilation numbers drop down to 20, or 10, we'll know we're not going to see as many poor outcomes in the weeks to come."

The number of people in ICU decreased by three to 209 on Friday, while 68 people remained on ventilators.

Australian Associated Press