Three people with COVID-19 have died in the Hunter New England Health District (HNEH) on a day NSW recorded another record high for its daily death toll, as the state's top medico spoke publicly about the recent death of a baby who had the virus in Newcastle.
The latest deaths take the total to 26 in the Lower Hunter since the omicron outbreak took hold in the region five weeks ago.
The Hunter New England Health District recorded 2738 new positive COVID-19 results in the 24 hours to 8pm on Thursday - 1745 from PCR tests and 993 from rapid antigen tests.
A woman from Singleton aged in her 70s and two men from Newcastle - one aged in his 60s and the other in his 90s - were among the latest to die with the virus, the local health authority said on Friday.
There are 100 people in hospital, including six patients in intensive care - up from 92 and five the previous day.
NSW Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant on Friday morning acknowledged the death of an eight-week-old infant with COVID-19 at John Hunter Children's Hospital about three weeks ago, as first reported by the Newcastle Herald.
Dr Chant said she had spoken with the baby's family and that the Coroner and forensic pathologists were "working very hard to get the answers that most importantly the family want - the family and the clinicians want - in terms of this child and the contribution COVID may or may not have made to its death".
She said the Coroner would inform the child's family of the findings, who would then have time to speak with clinicians about what was uncovered before further details of the infant's death are released publicly.
Dr Chant said there was "a variety of indicators" that showed the spread of COVID-19 was slowing in the community.
But she expected a high number of deaths would continue to be reported in the coming weeks, due to a "significant lag" of two-to-three weeks in between when cases are identified to when people are hospitalised.
"So unfortunately the death numbers will likely remain high," she said.
"But my message is we can turn that around by boostering and getting that booster in with a real sense of urgency."
It comes as NSW recorded 25,168 new positive COVID-19 test results and 46 deaths in the 24 hours to 8pm on Thursday.
Dr Chant said Thursday's death toll included seven people who lost their lives between December 29 and January 13, following the conclusion of coronial investigations.
PCR testing contributed 15,153 of the positive results recorded in the 24-hour period, while 10,015 came from rapid antigen testing.
There are 2743 COVID-19 patients in hospital, 209 of those in intensive care units.
Hospitalisation and ICU numbers dropped slightly from 2781 and 212 from the previous day.
NSW Health says 8774 of the positive rapid antigen test results were from the previous seven days.
The rapid antigen test results include some cases where an individual has taken multiple tests, or a rapid antigen test and PCR test in the same reporting period.
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