Premier Dominic Perrottet, Health Minister Brad Hazzard, CHO Dr Kerry Chant encourage NSW residents to continue wearing masks indoors

NSW residents are being encouraged to continue wearing their masks in indoor settings as COVID-19 cases surge.

NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet held a press conference today alongside Health Minister Brad Hazzard, Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant and NSW Health Deputy Secretary Susan Pearce as restrictions eased across the state today.

However, Dr Chant said continuing to wear a mask was "a small impost".

"I strongly recommend that people continue to wear their mask in high-risk settings," she said.

"I would urge everyone to continue to wear their masks in an indoor environment and remind you that you could have COVID and not have any symptoms so that simple action is a community-minded action."

Dr Chant said NSW Health was also working to redefine 'close contacts'.

She said from this point forward close contacts will be defined as household close contacts, close contacts of households like intimate partners or those who have been to a high risk venues attended by a COVID case, like the nightclub in Newcastle in the NSW Hunter region.

"The rapid uptick in cases, we believe, is due to Omicron driving that," Dr Chant said.

"What we don't know yet is the clinical severity but we do know boosters are crucial."

Health Minister Brad Hazzard also reiterated the importance of continuing to wear a mask.

He said the reproductive rate of the virus had put the government "on alert".

"At the end of the day prior to COVID we had to take individual responsibility for out health and now that is what we must do," he said.

"When it comes to omicron, the vaccine is not stopping transmission but we know that the severity of illness is not as bad as previous variants of coronavirus.

"Wear a mask... it may not be legally required but it's personal responsibility."

Mr Hazzard also said that modelling being conducted by the University of NSW has predicted that cases could rise to 25,000 a day by the end of January.

However, he said the mathematics were still being worked on.

"There is still a lot of work to be done with that algorithm," he said.

"We may not get to 25,000 cases a day, but we could."

The Premier said he had complete confidence in the state's health system to cope with rising cases.

The NSW Premier has encouraged everyone to wear a mask. Photo: FILE.

The NSW Premier has encouraged everyone to wear a mask. Photo: FILE.

He also pleaded with the media to turn their focus to hospital presentations rather than case numbers.

"I want to encourage people across the state to get that third booster shot," Mr Perrottet said.

"We never believed we would get a vaccination rate of nearly 95 per cent... and this uptick in cases should be a reminder to us all to get that booster shot."


NSW recorded 1360 new cases of COVID-19 and one death today as the Omicron variant continues to spread.

In the first daily case number above 1000 in three months, there were 104,501 tests taken in the 24 hour reporting period to 8pm Tuesday.

It comes after 804 cases were recorded the day before.

Currently 166 people are in hospital with the virus and 24 of those require intensive care.

More than 94 per cent of NSW residents have had a dose of vaccine while 93.2 per cent are fully vaccinated.

For the 12-15 year old population, 81.4 per cent have had one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and 77.8 per cent have had two doses.

This story Christmas shopping? 'Wear your mask': NSW Health Minister first appeared on Newcastle Herald.