Students in Greater Sydney will continue learning from home until at least August 28 after Premier Gladys Berejiklian announced a four-week extension of the state's lockdown.
Three more local government areas (LGA) - Parramatta, Campbelltown and Georges River - were added to the state's tough restrictions, The other LGAs of concern are Cumberland, Canterbury-Bankstown, Blacktown, Liverpool and Fairfield.
Restrictions will remain for the Blue Mountains, Central Coast, Wollongong and Shellharbour local government areas, but the Central West regions of Orange, Blayney and Cabonne were freed from stay-at-home orders at 12.01am this morning.
In the 24 hours to 8pm last night, NSW Health recorded 177 new cases of COVID-19, including one new death. It marks the worst day yet in the state's outbreak and the eighth day in a row of triple digit case numbers.
There were 22 cases in the community for part of their infectious period, 46 in the community for all of infectious period and 62 still under investigation.
The Premier announced that a Pfizer vaccination program will be launched for Year 12 students in the eight LGAs of concern with doses being redirected from regional NSW.
"We don't want students going to face-to-face learning getting the virus and taking it home to their families," Berejiklian said.
The NSW Government also plans to introduce rapid antigen testing for Year 12 students to provide a pathway back to face-to-face teaching, currently slated for Monday 16 August.
Vaccinations 'key to freedom'
On Tuesday, Greater Sydney recorded 172 cases, 111 of which were active in the community for some or all of their infectious period. This worrying development in the state’s COVID-19 outbreak came just as Victorian and South Australian students learned they would be returning to school.
Across the state, there are concerns that health authorities are losing control of the Delta variant, which is known to spread at least twice as fast as the Alpha strain that forced Australia and many other parts of the world into the first ever ‘economic hibernation’ between late March and April 2020.
In her Tuesday press conference, Berejiklian said vaccination is "the key to freedom" for locked down NSW residents.
“Getting jabs in arms is a key part of our strategy. I want August to be the month where everyone comes forward to get the jab,” Berejiklian said.
“That is key to us being able to see what September looks like. I don’t think anyone can deny that the vaccination rate is absolutely key to how we live life in NSW.”