NSW has reported 25,870 new COVID-19 cases and 11 deaths, as the state government mulls forcing residents to report positive at-home rapid test results.
The new cases reported on Tuesday were detected from just over 71,000 PCR laboratory tests, and push the state past the milestone of 500,000 cases since the pandemic began.
But NSW Health has warned current daily case numbers are conservative because RAT results are yet to be officially included.
"As increasingly people follow NSW Health advice to use rapid antigen tests for diagnosing COVID-19, the number of PCR tests will underestimate the true number of people who've tested positive," Dr Jeremy McAnulty said.
The state will this week move into a dual reporting system for infections that includes positive, self-administered RAT results - reported through the ServiceNSW app - and the normal PCR results.
Health Minister Brad Hazzard told The Sydney Morning Herald on Tuesday the government wants to mandate the reporting of positive RAT results.
His department has sought advice from the Crown Solicitor's Office on how it can be legally enforced.
"The bottom line is it is a must-do, even if there is no fine," Mr Hazzard told the SMH, saying it will track where the virus is in the community and could potentially make people eligible for support payments.
Minister for Multiculturalism Mark Coure said the move would be "a great step forward" and rejected concerns it could disproportionately impact multicultural communities.
"There are multicultural communities out there that won't understand the new changes (but) my job as minister is to ensure that they do and that material will be out soon," he told reporters.
Opposition Leader Chris Minns said the government needs to avoid a repeat of the Delta lockdown when it was "very slow in communicating with multicultural communities what their obligations were".
NSW on Monday recorded its deadliest day of the pandemic, with 18 fatalities including a three-year-old boy who had significant underlying health conditions.
Another 11 deaths were reported on Tuesday: six women and five men, aged between their 70s and 90s. Two were unvaccinated.
Some 170 people are in intensive care, about half of whom are unvaccinated, and 51 are ventilated.
The total number of people in hospital also climbed, to 2186.
Dr McAnulty urged people, particularly pregnant women or those who have underlying health conditions, to pay close attention to the severity of their symptoms and seek medical help as soon as they need it.
While the transition to a system that relies more heavily on rapid, at-home tests has been welcomed, the test kits remain in short supply in NSW.
The state government has ordered 50 million tests, with the first to begin arriving this week, and is planning to purchase another 50 million.
The Rail, Tram and Bus Union says some of those tests need to be provided to transport and logistics workers for free.
The Transport Workers Union (TWU) has called on government MPs to donate rapid tests they're being provided for themselves and staff to essential transport workers in their electorate and for the government to make them free for workers as soon as possible.
With upcoming by-elections in a number of seats, TWU NSW secretary Richard Olsen said "at this rate the easiest way for an essential transport worker to get their hands on a rapid test would be to run for election".
However, Premier Dominic Perrottet on Monday said the government would focus on providing the tests in other critical areas first.
"Our number one priority is to use the rapid antigen tests that were procured ... in those areas such as schools, social housing, vulnerable communities, Indigenous communities ... (and) regional and remote communities," he said.
The rest of NSW can expect to see "a substantial amount of supply being available through private supply chains as well", he added.
Australian Associated Press
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.