THERE are no new cases of COVID-19 in Tamworth or across the New England North West but the district has recorded its second death.
A 69-year-old man died on Thursday in John Hunter Hospital in Newcastle - the hospital's first coronavirus fatality.
NSW Health said the man had likely contracted the virus while interstate but had no known links to anyone else who had tested positive.
Health Minister Brad Hazzard confirmed the man's death during a media conference in Sydney at midday on Friday.
It's understood Hunter New England Health (HNEH) staff had been informed a day earlier in a message.
The man died in the early hours of Thursday morning, the Newcastle Herald reported.
He is the second Hunter resident to die from complications associated with the coronavirus after a 76-year-old male passenger on the Ruby Princess cruise ship died in Sydney's Westmead Hospital last weekend.
On Friday afternoon, HNEH confirmed three new cases across the district in the latest numbers to 8pm on Thursday. NSW recorded 49 cases in the same 24-hour testing period
No new cases were reported in Tamworth, which officially sits at 12 cases, or Gunnedah, which has at least one case.
UPDATE: FRIDAY 9AM
John Hunter Hospital has recorded its first fatality from COVID-19, a 69-year-old man who died on Thursday.
Hunter New England Health (HNEH) would not confirm the grim news, but staff were told in a message on Thursday.
The man is the second Hunter resident to die from complications associated with the coronavirus fatality in Australia.
A 76-year-old man, a passenger on the Ruby Princess cruise ship, died in Westmead Hospital in Sydney last weekend.
The daily count of new coronavirus cases in the Hunter New England Health district rose to eight on Thursday.
The slight jump follows a week when on two days the health service recorded no new positive tests for the virus that causes COVID-19.
It was the highest daily count of new cases in the district in seven days.
Health authorities established a drive-through testing station in Belmont on Monday after identifying a potential "hot spot" in eastern Lake Macquarie suburbs.
The new cases took the region's total to 262.
Eight COVID-19 patients are being treated in HNEH hospitals. Four patients are in intensive care, one fewer than on Wednesday.
Despite the slight uptick in Hunter cases, federal Health Minister Greg Hunt said the rate of transmission continued to flatten.
Only 96 people contracted the virus in the latest national daily count, compared with the peak of 460 on March 28.
The total number of people who have tested positive stood at 6052 on Thursday afternoon.
The ABC's coronavirus tracker said 51 people had died, 260 were in hospital, 82 remained in intensive care and 35 were on ventilators.
NSW added another 39 cases in the 24 hours to 8pm on Wednesday, the lowest count since March 16.
Twelve of the new cases were linked to Gosford Hospital, including two patients, six staff and four family members or friends of cases.
The affected ward was closed on Wednesday.
HNEH will operate testing clinics at John Hunter and Belmont hospitals over the Easter long weekend, but the Mater clinic will be closed from Friday to Monday.
The Maitland testing clinic will close on Friday and Sunday but remain open on Saturday and Monday.
The total number of cases in NSW now sits at 2773 while some 31 coronavirus patients are in intensive care.
Premier Gladys Berejiklian reminded residents they could not attend church or religious services over the Easter weekend and implored people to stay home.
"We cannot lift our foot off the pedal, we have to stay vigilant," the Liberal leader said on Thursday.
Of the 39 new cases, 12 were connected to Gosford Hospital, including two patients, six staff members and four associated contacts.
Ms Berejiklian said the full impact of shutdown measures aimed at halting the spread of COVID-19 - including the closure of venues such as pubs, cinemas, gyms and libraries - would not be known for some weeks. But early signs were positive as new case numbers dwindle - despite community-to-community transmissions in NSW passing 400 this week.
"We are as a state going to look at data once a month closely in terms of what we do in the future with restrictions," Ms Berejiklian said.
"There'll be a rolling monthly consideration and I'll be saying publicly at the end of every month what we're likely to do in the following month."
Ms Berejiklian on Thursday said NSW preschools would be made free for the next six months to ease pressure on family budgets.
Our COVID-19 news articles relating to public health and safety are free for anyone to access. However, we depend on subscription revenue to support our journalism. If you are able, please subscribe here. If you are already a subscriber, thank you for your support.