The number of people being treated for Covid-19 in hospital in NSW has topped 1000 for the first time since 2 October after the state recorded 18,278 new cases.

Health workers conduct PCR tests at the St Vincent's Bondi Beach Covid-19 drive through testing clinic on 22 December.Health workers conduct PCR tests at the St Vincent’s Bondi Beach Covid-19 drive through testing clinic in Sydney. Photo: AFP or licensors


Hospitalisations have risen to 1066, up from 901 in the previous reporting period, with 83 patients in intensive care.

There are five times as many people being treated for Covid-19 in the state’s hospitals as there were in mid-December, although the number of people in intensive care has increased at a slower rate.

Premier Dominic Perrottet last week said the health system “remains strong” and the state was in a “very strong position” despite the fast-growing case numbers and increase in hospitalisations because of the Omicron variant outbreak.

Tired and overworked healthcare workers in NSW were left with no choice but to support reducing the isolation rules for asymptomatic staff deemed close contacts of Covid-19 cases.

Under an exemption to the Public Health Order signed by Health Minister Brad Hazzard on Friday night, these staff can now be ordered back to work.

Australian Salaried Medical Officers Federation (ASMOF) NSW president Tony Sara said hospitals were running out of staff and the pressure on the system was enormous.

“We’re loading our hospitals with Covid-positive patients who need to be in hospital,” Dr Sara said.

“We therefore had to reduce the ISO requirements, we don’t agree with it but essentially if the health system is not to collapse then ourselves, the nurses and the HSU [Health Service Union] – we don’t have a lot of choice but to agree.”

Shadow Police Minister Walt Secord said the turnaround from encouraging people to isolate to now trying to get them back to work was evidence of a stressed health system.

He said workers were exhausted and the Premier was completely unprepared.

“You have to put yourself in the situation of health care workers – nurses, doctors paramedics, even cleaners,” Secord said.

“Rules are being quickly changed and without consultation and they’re not been communicated, that’s absolutely unfair but it also puts the community at risk.”

                          Photo from NSW Health Twitter page

NSW recorded two more Covid-19 deaths in the 24 hours to 8pm yesterday.

There were 90,019 Covid swabs taken compared to 119,278 taken during the previous reporting period.