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Sydney or the bush: Most NSW infections now outside the state capital

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The majority of COVID-19 cases reported in NSW are now being diagnosed in the regions and smaller cities, rather than in Sydney where the Delta outbreak first took hold.

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Of the 294 cases reported on Monday, 166 – or 56 per cent – were outside the state capital.

The caseload is highest in the Hunter New England local health district, which had the most cases of any district in the 24 hours to 8pm on Sunday – 59. It recorded 53 cases the day before, down from 78 the previous day.

NSW has recorded 282 new locally acquired cases of COVID-19 and one death, two weeks after people began enjoying more freedoms after coming out of lockdown.

Health authorities have predicted cases numbers will surge again this week – two weeks after people started mingling again as restrictions eased. However, it’s a case of so good so far, as there were 12 fewer cases recorded in the 24-hours to 8pm on Monday, from the previous day.

And the number of people in hospital with COVID-19 has dropped to 457 – 17 fewer than the previous day.

Case numbers in southwest and western Sydney once dwarfed any other area, but Hunter New England has in the last week been the district with the highest caseload on three occasions.

The district takes in Newcastle, Tamworth, Glen Innes and Moree as part of its 131,785 square kilometre area.

There is also a notable surge in the Murrumbidgee Local Health District, which takes in the Snowy Mountains and the Riverina region in the state’s southwest.

That area reported 46 new cases on Monday, 47 on Sunday and 37 on Saturday.

The district has a population of about 243,00, compared to the 820,000 people serviced by the South Western Sydney Local Health District and the 920,000 in Hunter New England.

Concerns that vaccination rates were lower in the regions drove the NSW government’s decision to postpone unrestricted travel from Sydney until November 1.

Regional communities wanted more time to get their double dose vaccination rates as high as possible before welcoming back visitors.

Authorities reported four new deaths from the virus on Monday, including a person from the Central Coast.

Each person had underlying health conditions, said NSW Health. They were an unvaccinated person in their 40s, two people in their 60s with one dose of the vaccine, and a person in their 70s with both doses.

State-wide vaccination coverage is now at 85 per cent double-dose and 93.1 single-dose for over-16s.

Of children aged 12 to 15, 78 per cent have had their first dose and 51.5 per cent are fully vaccinated.

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