"What the data is telling us, in the last few days, is that we haven't seen the worst of it," New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian said.
New South Wales health authorities are expecting case numbers in the state to get worse over the coming days after 633 new locally acquired cases were reported today - a new daily record for the state.
This sudden jump in case numbers, up from 452 yesterday, can be attributed to the exponential spread of the virus in NSW, according to Premier Gladys Berejiklian.
"According to the data that we have, every person who has the virus is spreading it to at least more than one person," Berejiklian said.
"Now for us to know that we've reached out peak - that can't continue.
"So what the data is telling us, in the last few days, is that we haven't seen the worst of it, and the way that we stop this is by everybody staying home."
Of today's new cases, 550 are from Southwestern or Western Sydney, but given the high viral load being detected in new cases the Premier says the next hotspot could be anywhere in the state.
"The vast majority of cases are in younger people in those areas of concern, and that is where our focus needs to remain," she said.
"Although given the high viral load, it could mean that there could be an outbreak anywhere if anyone from those communities moves to work in another community."
The state also reported three more deaths from COVID-19 today: one man in his 60s and two men in their 70s.
NSW Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant expressed her fear that if numbers continue to rise the state will see more deaths.
"I can't express enough my level of concern at these rising numbers of cases," Dr Chant said.
"We will see more admissions and more deaths if these numbers continue to increase.
"We have a collective responsibility to do all we can to stop seeing those deaths and hospitalisations continue to increase."
NSW Health's ongoing sewage surveillance program has detected fragments of the virus that causes COVID-19 at the Yamba, Bathurst and Orange sewage treatment plants in recent days.
"These detections are of particular concern and everyone in these areas are urged to monitor for the onset of symptoms, and if they appear, to immediately be tested and isolate until a negative result is received," NSW Health said.
Dominello apologises for business grant backlog
With 15,000 business grant applications still to be approved by Service NSW that have been pending for more than two weeks the State's Minister for Customer Services has apologised for the slow processing times.
Victor Dominello today revealed more than 260,000 grants have been received so far, and of those 200,000 have been approved or paid.
However, there are 60,000 outstanding grants still to be approved, and of those 15,000 are more than two weeks old.
"Can I first begin by apologising to all the businesses that did not receive their grants on time or did not receive phone calls when they should have expected phone calls," Dominello said.
"The quality of service that we provided over the last month is not up to standard."
The Minister says the average waiting time for grant approvals is currently 7.5 working days, but some 15,000 grants are still not addressed despite having been lodged more than two weeks ago.
With 580 assessors attempting to clear the backlog currently, Dominello asked for patience as the Service NSW call centre has been seeing a 4,000 per cent increase in demand recently.
"When we were setting up this grant program in many ways we were flying and building the plane at the same time, but we are again making a lot of progress," Dominello said.
Updated at 11.48am AEST on 18 August 2021.
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