NSW has recorded more than 48,000 new cases of coronavirus and a further 20 deaths as reports emerged hundreds of health workers had quit or been stood down over their refusal to get vaccinated.
The state's health department said 48,768 new cases of Covid-19 had been recorded in the 24 hours until 8pm on Friday, with nine more admissions to the ICU taking the total to 193 people in intensive care.
Of Saturday's total cases, 21,748 were recorded on rapid antigen tests while the remainder were PCRs.
There are also currently 2576 people in hospital with coronavirus in NSW, which is 51 more than in the 24 hours before.
Friday saw NSW record 29 deaths and more than 63,000 new cases of Covid-19.
Almost 1000 NSW Health workers lose job over vaccines
Almost 1000 NSW Health staff have either reportedly quit or been stood down for refusing to take the coronavirus vaccine.
A NSW Health spokesperson told The Sydney Morning Herald 325 people had resigned and a further 670 had "ceased employment".
They are a mix of clinical and non-clinical workers.
NSW 'better than the best case scenario', premier says
Premier Dominic Perrottet said the state was on an encouraging trajectory.
"We are currently tracking... better than the best case scenario," he said on Friday.
"It is going to be a difficult few weeks ahead, but the tracking that we are releasing today is very reassuring and encouraging."
The number of patients in hospital is still steadily climbing, but is expected to plateau next week.
Research released last week found that in a worst case scenario 6000 people could be hospitalised at the peak of the Omicron outbreak.
Some 600 of them would be in intensive care.
In the best case scenario, only 3158 people will be hospitalised and the number in ICU will peak at 270.
In comparison, at the peak of the Delta outbreak in September, when infections were a fraction of the current rate, there were 1266 people in hospital with Covid and 244 in intensive care.
Under the best case scenario model, hospitalisations would be about two and a half times what they were at the Delta outbreak peak, but ICU admissions would only be up about 11 per cent.
But NSW Health Deputy Secretary Susan Pearce has warned the health system is still under immense strain.
"Behind every line and every dot on that page are people," she said.
"Please don't read that as meaning that our whole system is not under pressure."
Victoria records more than 25,000 new Covid cases
Victoria has recorded 25,526 new Covid cases and 23 deaths as more residents are told their PCR tests are invalid after waiting more than seven days.
The new infections include 12,857 from rapid antigen tests and 12,669 from PCR tests, the state health department confirmed on Saturday.
There are a record 1054 patients in hospital, up 78 from Friday, including 115 in intensive care of whom 30 are on a ventilator.
The state is managing 227,105 active cases.
The number of Victorians 18 and over who have received their booster vaccine shot has risen to 22 per cent.
The figures come as private pathology labs send out more notifications to Victorians whose PCR tests have been deemed invalid because they are more than seven days old.
"Impacted patients will be notified via text message in the near future. We regret the inconvenience caused to our patients by the delay in results," Australian Clinical Labs (ACL) said in an update published on Friday.
"Our laboratory staff are doing all they can in getting through the current backlog, and like all pathology companies in Victoria, we have seen an unprecedented volume of samples enter our laboratories during the latest surge."
One Melbourne woman, who was tested on January 5, received the memo on Friday evening.
ACL recommended she use a rapid antigen test or self-quarantine for seven days post her first test date, which had already passed.
The company was one of four private pathology providers to suspend operations across 54 Victorian testing sites earlier this month to allow their labs to catch up on the test backlog.
Another of the quartet, Melbourne Pathology, last week decided not to process week-old samples from 7000 tests taken over the busy Christmas and new year period.
The Department of Health has been contacted for comment.
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