A Wollongong woman has died with COVID-19, while the number of people hospitalised with the illness in the district has risen above 100.
The woman, aged in her 70s, was among 29 deaths reported by NSW Health on Friday.
These people were aged from their 40s to their 90s, and included 19 people who were vaccinated and 10 people who were not.
There are 103 people in hospital in the Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District as a result of COVID, up from 96 the previous day.
Meanwhile, the district has reported another 1289 confirmed COVID cases.
These include 795 cases from Wollongong, 305 cases from Shellharbour, 79 cases from Kiama, and 110 from Shoalhaven.
The new case number for the district does not include the tally of positive rapid antigen test results, which is currently only reported at the state level.
They bring the number of cases seen since June 16 - the beginning of the Delta outbreak - to 21,894.
Across NSW there were 63,018 new COVID cases reported to 8pm Thursday: 37,938 from RATs and 25,080 from PCR tests.
Of the 37,938 positive RAT results, 24,329 of these positive tests were from the previous seven days.
However, NSW Health says these might include cases of individuals reporting multiple positive results, as well as people who have tested positive on both a RAT and a PCR test.
Chief health officer Dr Kerry Chant said NSW Health was working to improve data quality and reduce any duplication in RAT result reports.
There are 2525 patients with COVID in NSW hospitals, including 184 in intensive care, of whom 59 are on ventilators.
NSW Health deputy secretary Susan Pearce said hospitalisations and ICU admissions were tracking better than the best-case scenario detailed in the modelling the government released last week.
Ms Pearce said health authorities were increasingly confident that numbers would plateau next week, but noted these would be at a relatively high level.
While positive, the improved forecast should not be read as a sign the health system was not under pressure, she said: it was expected this strain would continue for the next few weeks.
But Ms Pearce said there had been a reduction in emergency department attendances over the last week or so.
Almost 94 per cent of people aged 16 and over have now had two doses of the COVID vaccine, while 22.9 per cent of people aged 18 and over have had a third shot.
Meanwhile, isolation exemptions for critical workers deemed close contacts have been expanded to more industries.
Under the new rules, workers can leave isolation to work if they have no symptoms and their employer determines their absence would likely disrupt the delivery of critical services or activities.
The new sectors include: utilities, information and telecommunications, social assistance and welfare services, funeral, crematorium and cemetery services, seaport operations, air and sea freight and logistics, correctional centres and community corrections, and Resilience NSW, Surf Life Saving NSW, Marine Rescue NSW and the NSW Volunteer Rescue Association.
They join agriculture (biosecurity and food safety personnel), manufacturing (food, beverages, groceries, cleaning and sanitary products), transport, postal and warehousing, and emergency services and healthcare.
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