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NSW has passed a grim milestone, with more than 1000 people having died from Covid-19 in the state after a record day of deaths.
The state reported 25,168 new cases and 46 deaths on Friday, a new deadliest day of the pandemic that brings the NSW death toll to 1024.
More than a quarter of the deaths have occurred in the last two weeks, during which 324 people died with Covid-19.
There are "promising" signs the state is past the worst of the outbreak, but the state's plateauing case numbers won't be reflected in its death toll for some time, Deakin University epidemiologist Catherine Bennett told AAP.
While case numbers are unlikely to drop rapidly, as you would expect with a peak, Prof Bennett says they seem to have plateaued.
"It's really complicated because of the changes to testing protocols and availability of testing has been a problem," she said.
"But all the indicators, while none of them are truly reliable and they've all shifted around... are looking good."
However, the number of people becoming seriously ill and dying with the virus may not drop for weeks, she says.
Hospitalisations dropped again to 2743 on Friday, after falling for the first time since December 13 on Thursday.
The number of people in ICU also decreased to 209.
Professor Bennett says ICU numbers and people on ventilators are the two important numbers to watch.
"People when they go on to a ventilator, instead of it being a short-term ICU visit, they're in there for weeks," she said.
"When our ventilation numbers drop down to 20, or 10, we'll know we're not going to see as many poor outcomes in the weeks to come."
Also driving down death rates will be the decline of the more serious Delta variant, newly approved early-intervention treatments for Covid-19, and greater take-up of vaccine boosters.
"The booster will be the death knell for Delta, hopefully," she said.
NSW and Victoria pitched their plan for re-opening schools to national cabinet on Thursday, after which Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the federal government had agreed to split the cost 50-50 with states opting to surveillance-test students and teachers.
Mr Perrottet had earlier confirmed surveillance testing would play a role "at least in the short term" in ensuring schools remained open from day one of term one - February 1.
Almost four-in-five primary school children in NSW are yet to receive their first vaccine dose.
ictoria has recorded 18,167 new Covid-19 cases and 20 deaths, as a four-day booster vaccine blitz gets underway at eight state-run hubs.
The new infections, confirmed by the health department on Friday, include 10,023 from PCR tests and 8144 from rapid antigen tests.
It takes the total number of active cases in the state to 252,399, up by 5505.
However, hospital figures have dropped by 110 to 1096, ahead of the state's expected peak during the Omicron wave.
The number of Victorians in intensive care sits at 121 and there are 34 people on ventilation.
Victoria's third dose rate has lifted to 28 per cent as the booster blitz begins on Friday, with 60,000 vaccine slots available.
Hours at major hubs including Bendigo, La Trobe University and Sandown have been extended specifically for the blitz, while more than 100 GPs and pharmacies across the state will receive grants to provide additional appointments at the weekend.
More than 200,000 booster appointments are available in Victoria over the next two weeks, after the interval between second and third doses was slashed to three months in state clinics.
Meanwhile, the Victorian government is ordering another 166 million rapid antigen tests, as millions more arrive in the state.
Premier Daniel Andrews said the tests will cost "hundreds of millions" but declined to give an exact amount as negotiations are ongoing.
Out of the 44 million already ordered, 7.5 million RATs have arrived since Sunday, with more than two million distributed to health workers, staff in sensitive settings, and vulnerable communities.
About 750,000 tests have also been handed out at state testing centres.