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Australia news LIVE: COVID-19 cases continue to grow across nation; day two of 2022 Australian Open continues in Melbourne

NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet says today is a “very difficult day” in his state after 36 deaths from COVID-19 were recorded: the highest daily total since the start of the pandemic.

“Often over the last two years, we can get focused on reporting the numbers, but we should not forget behind every one of those numbers is a loved one who passed away, or somebody who is in hospital ICU and going through a very difficult time,” he said during this morning’s press conference.

NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet has sent his condolences to the families of loved ones who have died of COVID-19. Credit:Kate Geraghty

The Premier asked people to continue to follow coronavirus restrictions – including isolation for cases and close contacts and uploading the results of rapid antigen tests to the Service NSW app – and thanked healthcare workers for their hard work and all residents for making COVID-safe choices, like socialising outside.

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“That sustained sacrifice that people have made has ensured that we keep our communities safe and ensures that, as we move to this next phase, we will come out stronger on the other side.”

He repeated his commitment to reopening schools on the first day of term one, and said a plan for returning to school would be released publicly after they were presented to national cabinet this Thursday.

NSW and Victoria have worked together on these plans, Mr Perrottet said.

“As a parent, I appreciate that many parents across the state are anxious about kids going back to school,” he said.

“We are working day and night with our health teams and education teams here in NSW to ensure that we have a safe environment for parents, teachers and for students.”

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