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Fears over Omicron variant drive huge spike in Covid testing in NSW

NSW is crawling towards its 95 per cent vaccination goal, with just two weeks before restrictions are lifted, as the state watches on to see how dangerous the Omicron variant really is.

With most restrictions ending on December 15, NSW has less than two weeks to reach 95 per cent, with its current 16 and over double dose vaccination rate sitting at 92.6 per cent on Wednesday.

However, the percentage of people who have received at least one dose has been stuck at 94 per cent for at least three weeks, suggesting the state has hit a ceiling on new inoculations.

Covid-19 tests in NSW jumped by more than 23,000 from Monday to Tuesday as fears grow of an outbreak of the Omicron variant, with six cases already detected in the state (a healthcare worker tests Sydneysiders for Covid, pictured)

NSW still has the highest vaccination rate of any state in Australia, and restrictions will lift on December 15 regardless of whether it hits the 95 per cent mark.

It's unlikely the Omicron variant will derail those plans, with NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet and Health Minister Brad Hazzard expressing little appetite for further lockdowns on Wednesday.

Six people have now been confirmed to have the Omicron variant in NSW.

However, the jury is still out on whether the variant is more dangerous and could overwhelm hospital systems, or merely more transmissible and able to replace stronger variants already spreading in the community.

"Let's shift the thinking ... It's not about the case numbers. It's about the hospitalisations and the ICU presentations," Mr Perrottet said.

NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet (pictured) does not want to lock down due to the Omicron strain and says the focus now should be on hospital admissions and the number of patients in intensive care, not the number of cases

Mr Hazzard said the government is not considering another lockdown.

"The challenge for us as a government and the other governments ... is to strike a different balance to the ones we had in the past," he said.

While the government is advising caution, the state's residents appear concerned.

The number of tests in NSW jumped by more than 23,000 between Monday and Tuesday - an increase of more than a third - as people reacted to the news of Omicron's arrival.

A similar increase occurred in the case numbers, with 251 detected on Tuesday and 179 on Monday.

At least two people have been in the community with the variant in NSW, having not been required to isolate after they landed in Australia before rules were changed on Saturday.

The percentage of NSW residents who've had at least one jab has been stuck on 94 for at least three weeks, suggesting the state has hit a ceiling for new jabs (pictured, a woman gets the Covid jab at a drive-through clinic in Sydney) 

Since then arrivals from eight countries of concern in southern Africa have been placed in quarantine for two weeks.

All other international arrivals in NSW and Victoria are now required to isolate for 72 hours at a nominated address, until they've returned a negative PCR test. They then have to isolate again while they wait for the results of a second test on their sixth day back in the country.

The two infected with Omicron and in the community arrived on the same Qatar Airways flight from Doha last week, but NSW Health said there was no evidence transmission occurred on the flight.

A third positive COVID-19 case on that flight has been genomically confirmed to have the Delta variant that caused months-long lockdowns in NSW and Victoria.

While one of the Omicron cases had been in southern Africa, the other had previously spent six months in Nigeria, and would not have been placed in two-week quarantine under the current rules.