National News

NSW virus cases steady, regions a concern

NSW has added 270 new locally-acquired infections to its COVID-19 caseload, while a further three deaths have been recorded.

Some 270 patients also remain in the state's hospitals, 55 of whom are in ICU and 27 require ventilation.

Health officials say neither a woman in her 30s from Sydney's west nor a Wollongong man in his 60s who died had been vaccinated. A western Sydney man in his 50s had received one dose.

There were more than 72,000 tests conducted across NSW in the 24 hours to 8pm on Friday.

Almost 94 per cent of people aged 16 or over have so far received one vaccine dose and 89.4 per cent are fully immunised.

Meanwhile, an increase in cases in regional and remote areas has sparked concerns Indigenous communities are underprepared for an outbreak as travel around NSW resumes.

Some 73 of the latest infections were detected in the Hunter New England health district, 37 were reported on the mid north coast, 21 were from Murrumbidgee and 10 in western NSW.

The Central Coast had six cases and there were five in both the Illawarra and Blue Mountains.

Ongoing sewage surveillance also found virus fragments in samples collected from Uralla and Byron Bay in northern NSW and at Dungog and Denman in the Hunter Valley.

There are no known cases in any of these areas.

This weekend marks the first since restrictions lifted on travel from Greater Sydney to regional areas for the fully vaccinated.

At Friday's national cabinet meeting National COVID Vaccine Taskforce co-ordinator Lieutenant General John Frewen gave an update on the plan to partner with Aboriginal community-controlled health organisations to accelerate vaccination rollout, noting hesitancy continues to be a factor.

Doherty Institute modelling has found Indigenous communities may require localised health strategies.

Federal Labor pointed to an Indigenous "vaccination gap", including in five regions where the difference between the state's double-dose rate and the rate for fully vaccinated Indigenous people exceeds 20 per cent.

In the Richmond-Tweed region, 59.9 per cent of the Indigenous population aged over 15 is fully vaccinated while in Coffs Harbour-Grafton that figure is 63.5 per cent.

The mid north coast has 63.7 per cent, New England 66.2 per cent and Murray 67.2 per cent.

NSW local government areas were on Friday declared "green zones", permitting travel to Victoria without quarantine testing but visitors still need a permit verifying they are not infected.

This weekend is the last for the Qudos Bank Arena vaccination hub at Sydney Olympic Park, which vaccinated more than 15,000 people a day during some periods of the recent Delta outbreak.

© AAP 2021