The NSW premier has rebuffed suggestions she waited two days to lock down Greater Sydney after learning a western Sydney COVID-19 "super-spreader" party had not been contained.
NSW reported 1257 new local COVID-19 cases in the 24 hours to 8pm on Sunday, as well as seven deaths. Greater Sydney has been in lockdown since June 26, more than 11 weeks ago.
In a response on Friday to questions on notice to a parliamentary inquiry, NSW Health said it had learned on June 24 that some attendees of a West Hoxton birthday party - at which dozens caught COVID-19 - had been missed by contact tracers.
The citywide lockdown began on June 26, one day after Sydney's central and eastern suburbs were locked down.
The response provided by NSW Health does not specify when the department shared its updated knowledge of the West Hoxton party with the government, or what occurred between June 24 and the citywide lockdown on June 26.
Premier Gladys Berejiklian denied she had received advice to lock down Sydney sooner than June 26.
"It was within hours of getting advice," Ms Berejiklian said on Monday.
"I could have waited an extra hour or extra day but I chose to come back on the same day and hold another press conference because as soon as we got upstairs, (Kerry) Chant provided us with additional advice and we reacted within hours.
"I look back now and think we did remarkably well to suppress the virus with a largely unvaccinated population ... I'm hopeful the higher vaccination rates will start kicking in."
The seven deaths in the 24-hour reporting period are a woman in her 60s, three people in their 80s and three people in their 90s.
There are 1189 COVID-19 patients in NSW hospitals, with 222 in intensive care beds and 94 on ventilators.
Ms Berejiklian was asked about a reported plan for firefighters to drive ambulances if paramedics were swamped during the COVID crisis predicted to peak in the next two months.
"Please prepare yourselves for watching things happen a bit differently," the premier said.
HSU NSW Secretary Gerard Hayes said the public expected a paramedic to arrive when they called an ambulance.
"Our emergency responders are not interchangeable," he said.
Ms Berejiklian denied the unvaccinated would have their freedoms restored at 80 per cent double-dose vaccination coverage in NSW, saying policy was still being finalised.
At 70 per cent double-dose coverage, in roughly mid-October, the fully vaccinated will have several freedoms restored allowing for household visits, gatherings and hospitality.
Meanwhile, the NSW-Queensland border bubble is operating again, allowing people in northern NSW who aren't locked down to travel north for essential work, school or medical reasons.
Also from Monday, up to five fully vaccinated adults who live outside the 12 Sydney COVID-19 hotspots areas can gather outdoors within five kilometres of their home.
Vaccinated households that live in the 12 local government areas of concern will be able to gather outdoors for recreation for two hours outside curfew hours and within five kilometres of home.
Additionally, those aged between 12 and 15 in NSW can now book in for Pfizer or Modena COVID-19 vaccines with GPs or vaccine clinics as part of the staggered plan to get school students back to face-to-face learning later this month.
NSW has been warned of a "challenging" two months ahead with peaks in COVID-19 cases and hospitalisations expected.
"Reopening is based on the premise that all of us are responsible, safe and cautious during this time," Ms Berejiklian said.
"All of us are looking forward to doing those things we can't currently do but we'll all move together safely and cautiously, respecting the health orders and appreciating that wherever people remain unvaccinated, they remain more vulnerable."
The number of COVID-19 infections in western NSW is also nearing 1000, with authorities particularly concerned about Walgett, one of the state's most disadvantaged towns.
© AAP 2021