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NSW records 325 Covid cases and one death as the Omicron variant spreads

New South Wales has recorded 325 cases and one new death as more Omicron infections are discovered in the state. 

The new cases, which were confirmed by health authorities on Saturday, come after the state saw its biggest spike in cases in weeks with 337 cases of the coronavirus announced on Friday. 

Late on Friday night it was confirmed the cluster at a Sydney school had exploded to 13 cases after three students there were confirmed as the latest victims of the new Omicron strain.

NSW records 325 new Covid-19 cases and one new death on Saturday (pictured, Sydney residents enjoy eased restrictions on November 8)

One schoolboy at the centre of the confirmed Omicron cases at Regents Park Christian School has not been overseas and is too young to have been vaccinated.

Testing has now revealed two of his schoolmates have also been infected with the new mutant strain of the disease. 

Urgent genome testing is now underway on the other 10 cases.

The whole school has been dismissed for the year and all students and staff have been identified as close contacts. 

‘They must get tested and self-isolate,’ NSW Health said. 

Health Minister Brad Hazzard said it appeared the boy had contracted the Omicron variant in the community – the first time that has occurred in Australia.

The discovery of the two new Omicron cases sparked an alert on Friday evening for anyone who was at Sydney Indoor Climbing Gym in Villawood on November 27.

NSW Health said the newly-confirmed Omicron cases had been at the centre and anyone there at any time on the day is a close contact who must isolate and get tested immediately.

Meanwhile, NSW Health have released several new exposure sites that were visited by a separate Omicron case in Chatswood, in Sydney’s north. 

A Woolworths store, Priceline pharmacy, Centrelink outlet and a Vodafone store were among the new sites.

The sites were visited by another family who previously travelled into Australia on Qatar Airways flight QR908 from Doha on November 23. 

New exposure sites in Chatswood

 Mantra Serviced Apartments

 10 Brown Street

Tuesday 23 November to Wednesday 1 December 

Vodafone, Level 3, Westfield Shopping Centre

 1 Anderson Street

Wednesday 24 November

12:25pm to 12:40pm

Centrelink and Medicare 

56-64 Archer Street

Wednesday 24 November

2:30pm to 4pm

Priceline Pharmacy, Chatswood Interchange 

Shop 40, Concourse Level, Chatswood Interchange, Victoria Avenue

Wednesday 24 November

1pm to 1.10pm

 Woolworths, Chatswood Interchange

Shop 55, Chatswood Interchange, Victoria Avenue

Wednesday 24 November

1pm to 1.10pm

All passengers on board that flight have been forced into compulsory 14 day isolation and required to take regular PCR tests. 

Overnight, NSW recorded 337 Covid-19 cases while health workers conducted 80,930 tests in the last 24 hours. 

The new cases mark a jump in infections with 271 reported on Thursday and 251 on Wednesday.

Despite the new Omicron case and the surge in infections, Premier Dominic Perrottet said the state was on track to reopen on December 15.

‘Case numbers will increase as we open up, and that is up to 15 December and beyond,’ he said.

The Premier added the public should instead focus on hospitalisations and ICU presentations.

‘We would have expected those (case) numbers to be much higher in circumstances where we opened up our state,’ he said.

Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt today eased concerns about the severity of the strain saying that the Omicron variant did not appear to be as ruthless as the Delta strain.

‘Transmission is always a concern. We need to keep it in perspective at the moment,’ he said.

‘Worldwide there isn’t clarity if this particular variant will cause us any problems as the other variants. 

‘We’re not seeing people suddenly rushed to hospital. What we’re seeing is people who are asymptomatic.’

But the success here has not just been on the health staff who have done an amazing job but the efforts of every single person right across the state has made to go out and be vaccinated. 

‘That has been a success. We lead the country when it comes to a vaccination rate and importantly, arguably, the world.’  

The jury is still out on the severity of the Omicron variant, and whether it causes a more severe disease that could overwhelm hospital systems or is merely more transmissible but potentially less dangerous.

There are currently 139 Covid-19 cases admitted to hospital across the state, with 25 people in intensive care.

The state’s vaccination rate remained at 94.6 per cent first-dose coverage but double-dose numbers increased slightly to 92.7 per cent in the 24 hours to 8pm on Friday.