A Wollongong woman in her 80s has become the first Illawarra resident to die with COVID-19 at Wollongong Hospital during the current Delta outbreak.
Her death, and those of three other people, were announced on Monday, the same day NSW reported 935 new COVID cases.
This represented the lowest daily increase in cases since August 24, although Premier Gladys Berejiklian said "we can't read too much into this", in relation to the decline.
Forty-five people within the Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District tested positive for the virus in the 24 hours to 8pm Sunday.
These included 28 in the Wollongong local government area, 12 in Shellharbour, one in Kiama and four in Shoalhaven.
Of these, 13 are linked to known cases, while contact tracers continue their investigations into the rest.
Chief health officer Dr Kerry Chant called on residents of the Wollongong area to remain vigilant for signs and symptoms of COVID, come forward for testing, and "take care as you go about your required activities".
The new cases across NSW were detected from 124,650 tests, a 25 per cent increase on the day before
Dr Chant said the Wollongong woman who died had received one dose of the vaccine and had underlying health conditions.
Her death follows those of two other Illawarra residents last year, who also had COVID: a 75-year-old man who died at Wollongong Hospital in April 2020, and a woman who died at a Sydney hospital the month prior.
Last month, a woman in her 80s from southwest Sydney who had COVID also died at Wollongong Hospital.
While vaccination rates continued to rise and the number of daily new cases had fallen, the premier said the worst was likely yet to come in terms of serious illness and death.
"Even if case numbers go down, we should expect unfortunately that the number of people in intensive care and the number of people who lose their lives to go up," Ms Berejiklian said.
"Because as we've said consistently, because we've had a number of cases in the past few weeks, people ordinarily get very sick in the second week of the illness, and sometimes stay very sick for a long time.
"And that's why we need to continue to brace ourselves for October being the worst month for the number of people who pass away, and the number of people who need intensive care."
She also said it was not yet known whether the state had reached its peak number of new infections, which had been expected in mid-September.
"We're feeling more more positive than we have in a couple of weeks, but we're not ready to call it," Ms Berejiklian said.
There are currently 1207 people with COVID in hospital across NSW, including 28 residents of the Illawarra Shoalhaven LHD.
Of these patients, 236 are in intensive care, 123 of whom are on ventilators.
There have been 47,058 COVID cases across NSW since this outbreak began in mid-June, including 721 among residents of the Illawarra Shoalhaven LHD, and 245 COVID-related deaths.
Meanwhile, vaccination rates continue to climb.
Almost 53 per cent of the state's population aged over 16 has received two doses of the vaccine, while 82.2 per cent have had at least one dose.
Meanwhile, 20 per cent of children aged 12 to 15 have now had at least one shot.
Data from the federal government shows 50.7 per cent of Wollongong residents aged 15 and over were fully vaccinated as of Sunday, with 76.4 per cent having received at least one dose.
Shellharbour has a fully vaccinated rate of 50.1 per cent, while 79.3 per cent of its residents have had at least their first dose.
Kiama still has the highest vaccination rate in the Illawarra: 60.8 per cent of people aged 15 and over have had both their shots, and 85 per cent have had at least one dose.