NSW records 20 deaths with Covid as case numbers FALL again to 48,768 and Victoria suffers 23 deaths and 25,526 new infections
- Saturday's numbers are a drop from the 63,018 infections on Friday
- Hospitalisations around NSW have slightly jumped 2,576 from 2,525
- More Victorians are also in hospital than on Friday, with 115 residents in ICU
- NSW Chief Health Officer Kerry Chant earlier said half of state would catch virus
New South Wales has recorded another drop in Covid cases with 48,768 new infections and 20 deaths while Victoria's numbers have climbed by 25,526 and 23 lives were lost.
Saturday's numbers in NSW are a dip from the 63,018 cases announced on Friday, with 21,478 cases coming from rapid antigen tests.
Hospitalisations have slightly gone up with 2,576 patients receiving care around NSW, a jump from 2,525. ICU rates are at 193, an increase of nine.
There are 1,054 Victorians in hospital with the virus, up from 976, and 115 of these are in ICU.
It comes after NSW's Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant predicted half the population could contract Covid during the current wave.
New South Wales has recorded another drop in Covid cases with 48,768 new infections and 20 deaths
Dr Chant forecast on Friday that as many as four million of the state's residents - 50 per cent of its population - would be infected.
Her remarks are the first time a high-profile official has given a public estimate on the extent of the outbreak raging down Australia's east coast.
The respected doctor said not all of those forecast infections would be symptomatic. Many people may not even knowing they are infected.
'There will still be people that have not experienced or been exposed to Omicron,' Dr Chant said.
An almost empty street in Bondi is seen as thousands test positive to Covid around NSW
Infectious disease expert Professor Robert Booy said both states were close to reaching their peak of Omicron cases.
'We are getting close to the top of our swing in terms of numbers in NSW and Victoria, we will probably peak within the next one to two weeks,' he told The Today Show.
'But the hospitalisations will peak in February because they come about two weeks after cases.'
Meanwhile, new modelling released by NSW Health on Friday shows there are currently drastically fewer hospitalisations than scenarios officials had previously predicted.
The state's deputy health secretary said pressure on hospitals will likely remain for the 'next few weeks' - but could plateau by the end of next week.
Dr Chant also revealed health authorities would slowly be phasing out the term 'close contact' and shifting their focus to vulnerable residents.
The health department has released a detailed list of critical workers who bosses can deem exempt from isolating even if they are household close contacts of a positive Covid case.
Workers who show no symptoms and are employers believe are 'critical' will not have to go into quarantine under a raft of new rules agreed to by national cabinet this week.
NSW's top doctor warned half of the state's population would catch the virus (pictured shopper in Sydney's CBD)