Coronavirus case numbers in NSW have surged more than 70 per cent in a single day as the state reported 21,151 new infections on the final day of 2021.
Six new deaths were also announced on New Year’s Eve and there are now 763 people in hospital with the virus, 69 of whom are in intensive care.
The new cases were from 148,410 tests.
Test results have been delayed after surges in the number of people seeking tests in the week before Christmas.
The state recorded 12,226 cases on Thursday as changes to testing for international arrivals and isolation requirements for close contacts and cases changed.
NSW is now asking people not to seek PCR testing unless they are experiencing coronavirus symptoms or have been advised to get one because they are a close contact of a confirmed case.
Following an emergency meeting of national cabinet on Thursday, NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet said his state would adopt a “more balanced approach … that suits the circumstances of the time”.
The majority of people in intensive care are unvaccinated.
The state is putting faith in rapid antigen tests and is awaiting the arrival of 50 million tests that have been ordered.
The rules for international arrivals will be changed so the thousands of people flying into Sydney daily can obtain a rapid antigen test rather than joining the queue at testing clinics.
Close contacts and people who test positive for COVID-19 will only have to isolate for seven days.
Around 95 per cent of people aged over 16 are now fully vaccinated against the virus.