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'We Are At A Critical Stage': NSW Coronavirus Cases Spike To 818

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian says the state has seen a substantial increase in coronavirus diagnoses, with the state recording 149 new cases overnight.

The state is Australia's worst-affected and now has 818 cases of coronavirus and a death toll of six.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said while the state has a high number of coronavirus cases, it also has the highest rates of testing.

"We are a different state to the rest of Australia. We have the most people returned from overseas. We have the highest number of cases. We have the highest concentration," she said on Tuesday.

"But to give you assurance, we also have the highest rates of testing, and that's what's giving me comfort."

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NSW Premier Encourages Students To Stay Home But Classrooms Remain Open

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian says schools will remain open for those in need, but her government will encourage parents to keep their children at home wherever possible.

Berejiklian said she has "no regrets" about the policy decisions her government has taken, including allowing schools to remain open for parents in need.

"I'm incredibly pleased with the decisions we've taken to date. I don't regret any of them... And I don't care when criticism I get. Throw it at me, because I'm doing it because I believe it's in the best interests of the citizens of New South Wales."

Absentee rates across NSW public schools have skyrocketed from an average eight per cent to 41 per cent due to coronavirus fears, NSW Education Minister Sarah Mitchell said.

"We have asked parents where possible to keep their children at home.  Schools remain open for those who need to send their children," she said.

"That will include essential workers, our front-line staff, those who are keeping the community operating during this time of uncertainty."

The NSW Education Minister said principals have been told to identify staff with underlying health risks and allow them to have flexible arragments, including the ability to work from home.

"We are listening to the concerns of our teachers, particularly around those health and safety issues, and these measures will help to address some of those concerns."

Do you have a story tip? Contact Eden at egillespie@networkten.com.au