More than 92,264 COVID infections have been reported in NSW after residents rushed to post positive results from rapid antigen tests since the start of the year.
The dramatic rise in case numbers came on top of another grim milestone as the state reported a record 22 lives lost in the 24 hours to 8pm on Wednesday.
NSW Health cautioned that some of the daily case total announced on Thursday included people reporting positive rapid tests on multiple days and possible follow-up positive PCR tests.
The total number included 61,387 positive RAT results covering the period since January 1, including 50,729 in the past seven days. There were also 30,877 PCR tests.
Earlier, Customer Service and Digital Minister Victor Dominello said 82,000 positive RAT results from tests taken since January 1 had been uploaded to the Service NSW app or website.
The reporting system for positive RAT results went live on Wednesday morning. While the requirement became mandatory only on the day, NSW residents were asked to add tests taken since the start of the year.
From January 19, the government will begin imposing a $1000 fine on anyone who does not report a positive RAT result.
Mr Dominello admitted that would be difficult but said the government had to send a message that reporting a positive result was important.
“It’s almost going to be impossible in many ways to enforce,” he told Nine Network.
“But the majority of the states and territories in the country have gone down the path of issuing a fine or putting a fine in place – Tasmania, South Australia, Northern Territory, ACT – and some have chosen the other path of just saying please do it.”
Mr Dominello said registering a test result was mainly about connecting infected people with any health care need they might need or federal government financial assistance.
Prior to the RAT reporting regime, the state opposition had warned authorities were “flying blind” without an accurate picture of the spread of the virus in the NSW community.
But actually finding a rapid test remains a challenge for many, with supplies still severely curtailed. Prices also remain high.
Premier Dominic Perrottet has said the government is considering a voucher-style system to distribute the tests.
Across NSW, 21.6 per cent of people aged 16 and over have received their third dose of a COVID vaccine, while 93.7 per cent have received their second jab.