NSW is waiting to see if it records tens of thousands of new coronavirus cases for the third day in a row ahead of changes to testing for international arrivals and isolation requirements for close contacts and cases.
More than 40,000 cases have been confirmed in the state so far this week, however test results have been delayed after surges in the number of people seeking tests in the week before Christmas.
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”.
On Thursday there were 746 people in hospital in NSW, with 63 of them in intensive care and 24 on ventilators.
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.
On Thursday, NSW recorded 12,226 new cases, an increase of 1025 over the day before from about 60,000 fewer test results.