NSW has reported 20,148 new COVID-19 cases and 30 deaths as parents await government plans to keep children safe when school returns.
The fatalities include 18 men and 12 women who died with the virus, with one person aged in their 50s and the rest in their 70s and 90s.
Nine were unvaccinated.
After dropping for two consecutive days for the first time in a month, the number of NSW hospitalisations increased again on Saturday, with 2762 people now in care.
Patients in ICU dropped to 204, while two more were placed on ventilators, bringing the total to 70.
That's better than NSW Health's "best-case scenario" predictions, based on outbreaks in London and South Africa, which projected a peak of 3158 people in hospital and 270 in ICU.
Premier Dominic Perrottet stressed on Saturday that vaccinations and boosters were key to living alongside the virus. He said the health system was "under pressure" but coping.
Meanwhile, "the facts and the evidence speaks for itself" on vaccinations, the premier said.
The fully vaccinated make up 93.9 per cent of the NSW population while the significantly smaller number of unvaccinated represent almost 50 per cent of those in intensive care with the virus.
Of 8566 new cases detected using rapid antigen tests NSW Health says 7687 are from the previous seven days.
Authorities also note "there may be some cases included in these numbers where people have reported positive RATs on multiple days ... or had a positive PCR test during the same reporting period".
NSW is yet to release its plan to return kids to classrooms amid the continuing outbreak.
"We are doing it in a way that is safe for parents, safe for teachers and safe for children, and we'll be announcing those plans alongside the Victorian Ggvernment shortly," Mr Perrottet said on Saturday.
Opposition Leader Chris Minns said parents and teachers urgently needed clarity and called on the premier again to release the plan with the first day of term approaching.
"We want the 28th of January to work but there's no substitute for preparation and wishful thinking about the Omicron surge and the effects of COVID is no substitute for planning, particularly when it comes to public education," Mr Minns said on Saturday.
Labor has suggested the government use public schools as vaccination hubs in a bid to boost the number of children who have received at least one vaccine dose before classes return. That figure was 24.1 per cent on Saturday.
NSW Health deputy secretary Susan Pearce says the government does "a lot of school based vaccinations in normal circumstances" and will do some for COVID-19 but schools are not currently operating and the vaccines, some of which require being held at extremely low temperatures, "can be a little tricker to handle".
She says the state has plenty of places where people can seek vaccination and the experience vaccinating 12 to 15-year-olds suggested there is no need to turn schools into hubs.
"The uptake of the vaccine in that age group was very swift and not done in a school-based program," Ms Pearce said.
Some 78.4 per cent of 12 to 15-year-olds had been fully vaccinated on Saturday and 82.6 per cent had received at least one dose.
The Twitter account of Chief Health Officer Kerry Chant remains offline after posts spreading vaccine misinformation.
NSW Health says the tweets were incorrect, fabricated and not authored by Dr Chant.
Australian Associated Press