NSW records almost 50,000 new Covid-19 cases, 20 deaths

Source: Associated Press

NSW has recorded almost 50,000 new Covid-19 cases and a further 20 deaths as the state government extends its rental relief scheme for small businesses amid the state's Omicron outbreak.

Sydney train station

Treasurer Matt Kean on Saturday announced the scheme will be extended for two months until March 13.

"Small business is the engine room of our economy and we need to make sure we support impacted businesses through this latest Omicron wave," he said in a statement.

"With staff shortages and reduced foot traffic, many businesses are struggling at the moment but the ability to negotiate rent will give them a buffer so they can keep the lights on now and recover more quickly."

Commercial and retail tenants will be eligible for the rent relief if they have an annual turnover of less than $5 million and continue to meet the eligibility criteria for JobSaver or the micro-business grant, had those programs continued.

Landlords will also have more time to apply for land tax relief, with applications extended until 28 February for those who meet eligibility requirements.

It comes as some 48,768 positive results were returned the 24 hours to Saturday morning, with just under 22,000 of them collected from rapid antigen kits although around 15,000 of these were returns from the previous seven days.

There are 2576 patients in NSW hospitals, slightly up on the 2525 reported on Friday. Of them, 193 are in intensive care.

The state is 93.8 per cent double dosed for eligible residents 16 or over.

More than 24 per cent have also had a booster, while 8.9 per cent of children aged five to 11 have received their first jab.

While more people are dying with the virus in NSW than at any other time during the pandemic authorities maintain things are going better than expected and predict the outbreak will soon peak.

Saturday's fatalities bring the tally to 146 deaths reported over the past eight days, though a portion of those are understood to be historic and were classified following coronial investigations.

Worst case scenario modelling suggested 6000 people could be in hospital at the peak of the outbreak, with 10 per cent in intensive care.

Even the best case scenario predictions paint a grimmer picture than reality, estimating 3158 people would be in hospital.

Premier Dominic Perrottet on Friday said the state had "a difficult few weeks ahead" but things not currently being as bad as feared was "very reassuring and encouraging".

NSW Chief Health Officer Kerry Chant warned about half the people in NSW could become infected during the Omicron wave, though some would be asymptomatic and may never even know they had contracted the virus.

Meanwhile, the number of positive cases among detainees at Villawood detention centre has at least tripled since the confirmation of six cases in an outbreak on Tuesday.

However, reports from inside the facility suggest the case number could be as high as 68.