Coronavirus: 239 new COVID-19 cases, two deaths in New South Wales

Coronavirus: 239 new COVID-19 cases, two deaths in New South Wales
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There are 239 new infections and two new COVID-19 deaths in New South Wales - marking by far the worst day in the Australian state's latest outbreak.

At least 70 of the new cases were infectious in the community, NSW Health says. There are also 182 people currently in hospital with COVID-19.

The deaths were of a woman in her 90s and a man in his 80s on Wednesday. They were both from south-western Sydney and neither had been vaccinated.

"Based on those numbers we can only assume that things are likely to get worse before they get better, given the quantum of people infectious in the community," NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian told reporters at a press conference on Thursday.

Local police have been granted new powers in the wake of the horror figures, and will from Friday be allowed to shut down businesses, construction sites and public premises where there is a risk to public health.

Residents of eight local government areas will also be restricted to 5km of their homes, and thousands more police officers will be deployed in Greater Sydney as part of a new operation to increase their visibility.

The fine for not wearing a mask will increase from AU$200 to AU$500.

"We appreciate it's a difficult time for everybody in our state but we also appreciate it only takes a handful of people, or a small percentage, to do the wrong thing, to cause a setback for all of us," said Berejiklian.

"We can't afford setbacks... Police will increase compliance and presence on top of what is already occurring and Commissioner [Mick] Fuller knows if he needs anything further, he can ask the government and he will receive it."

Berejiklian later admitted the NSW government had been "far from perfect" in its response to COVID-19's resurgence in the state.

"I'm never going to suggest we get everything right... I'm the first one to admit at every stage of the process in the last 18 months, with the benefit of hindsight, it would be wonderful to know the alternative course. We'll never know that."

NSW Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant says the deaths of two elderly people from COVID-19 proves it's imperative older people get vaccinated.

"Sadly, 25 percent of people over 70 are still yet to receive their first dose," she said.

"The vaccine does not work immediately in providing protection, but even one vaccine can reduce your risk of hospitalisation and deaths and it can also prevent onward transmission...

"I don't think you need more evidence that vaccines will save lives and COVID will kill. So please, get vaccinated."