Covid cases rise sharply in NSW to more than 30,000 with data glitch only partly to blame

Covid-19 cases have spiked dramatically in New South Wales, with 30,402 new infections recorded, but authorities said it’s at least partly due to a data glitch.

NSW Health said about 10,000 positive rapid antigen tests registered between Sunday and Monday are included in figures released on today due to a data processing problem.

“These positive RATs from Sunday and Monday artificially inflate the cases being reported today for the 24 hours to 4pm Tuesday,” they said.

The state has recorded steep rises in cases this week according to the revised figures. In a statement, the health department said the actual estimated number of positive tests on Tuesday was 20,402, with 16,689 cases on Monday and 12,911 on Sunday.

Victoria has also recorded its highest daily case total in five weeks as the state braces for the more-infectious BA.2 Omicron subvariant to become dominant.

There were eight coronavirus-related deaths and 9,426 new infections reported in Victoria on Wednesday, including 7,401 from rapid antigen tests.

The daily case figure is the state’s highest since posting 9,908 on 9 February and has resulted in the number of active infections in the state jumping by 1,847 to 42,250.

Victoria’s Covid-19 commander, Jeroen Weimar, said the Omicron BA.2 subvariant is being detected in about half of the state’s wastewater sampling.

“We expect that the case numbers continue to trend upwards over March and April as people spend more time indoors as we mix more,” Weimar said. “So it’s really important that everyone uses this time and to get themselves protected with the third dose.”

The Victorian government has announced it will move away from operating large vaccination hubs and focus on smaller, walk-in facilities in local communities where booster uptake is lower than the state average of 62% and where there are fewer GPs and pharmacies.

Vaccinations will be available at 120 pop-up hubs during autumn, located at community and sports facilities, markets, playgrounds, primary schools and Bunnings stores in local government areas such as Brimbank, Casey, Dandenong, Darebin, Hume, Melton and Moreland.

“Some communities are doing really well,” the health minister, Martin Foley, said. “But we can do better, we can do more.

“And that’s why making it as easy as possible to get those vaccines into our arms is so critical.”

Foley confirmed the Royal Exhibition Building vaccination hub will close from Wednesday 23 March as part of the shift in priorities.

The hub is the second-largest in the state and has delivered 400,000 vaccines.

Five people died from the virus on Tuesday in NSW and 1,016 people are in hospital, with 36 of them in intensive care.

Health authorities are warning NSW to brace for a new wave of Covid-19, with cases likely to double by the middle of next month.

The NSW health minister, Brad Hazzard, says the same researchers who correctly predicted the Omicron summer surge have forecast another wave of cases that will peak next month.

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The acting chief health officer, Marianne Gale, said within weeks the new Omicron subvariant BA.2 will be “by far the dominant strain in NSW”.

Tony Bartone, a former Australian Medical Association boss, warned about a winter surge of cases, saying BA2 and the cold season posed a new threat as people spent more time indoors together.

“The BA2 ‘son of Omicron’ variant seems to be much more easily spread in family situations,” Bartone told the Nine Network. “Especially when children are largely unvaccinated.”

He urged parents to get their children vaccinated and eligible Australians to get a booster shot.

“We saw in January how quickly things can change,” he said.

“Be wary, be vigilant. Don’t forget the lessons of the past.”

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