The number of confirmed cases in the Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District with COVID-19 has risen to 51.
Five of those cases are currently in Wollongong Hospital in a dedicated coronavirus ward while one patient is in the intensive care unit. A number of other patients in the hospital are being monitored while awaiting test results.
ISLHD public health director Curtis Gregory said the majority of the confirmed cases - which include at least one person from the Ruby Princess cruise ship - were classified as mild to moderate and were in home isolation.
The majority of cases are over the age of 60.
Mr Gregory said around 140 people who had close contact with the confirmed cases have been contacted by health authorities, and are also in home isolation. The hospital said another 180 people were under investigation, waiting for test results.
The public health director was not able to give any additional details on the confirmed cases, as he said private details - such as the location of individuals diagnosed with COVID-19 - was a breach of patient privacy and served no public health benefit.
"What happens when we follow up a case is to make sure that case is in isolation," he said.
"In some cases that's in a hospital setting, in other instances that's in home isolation.
"Then we track their contacts and we make sure those contacts go into home isolation.
"If there was a situation where someone had attended a public space that needed to have a public alert associated with it, we would give that public alert out.
"... What I can say with absolute certainty is that no-one in the ISLHD was put at risk by any patient that was in the ICU, from any case."
A total of 3395 people have now been tested for COVID-19 throughout the local health district, with results taking two to four days to come through. There's also dedicated testing available for health workers.
Dr Bruce Ashford, a surgeon and co-ordinator of the Wollongong Hospital COVID-19 Task Group, said a range of special precautions were being taken to safely care for the confirmed cases.
"Wollongong Hospital has seen an increase in patients over the last couple of days that have been either suspected or known to have COVID-19 infection," he said. "Some of those patients have been able to go home, some of them have required admission to hospital."
Dr Ashford said there were specialist medical and nursing teams looking after the patients, using personal protective equipment and innovative communication methods to minimise contact between patients and staff, and between patients.
"(The COVID-19 pandemic) will be a massive challenge for this hospital, and the NSW health system," he said.
"In line with that there's been recruitment for staff, there's procurement of capital equipment and capabilities that we didn't have to have six weeks ago.
"That includes increasing the number of ventilators, increasing the number of staff ... also in doing things in a new way and a lot of that has been learnt from what has happened in China, Europe and the States."
The capacity for ventilation has so far increased by 300 per cent across the district.
Meantime the ISLHD continues to strengthen its measures to reduce the spread of COVID-19. This has included far stricter restrictions on visitation to all hospitals this week.
There's also been changes to access to Wollongong Hospital, with some entrances, including Crown Street, temporarily closed from today.
Dr Ashford said emergency and urgent surgery would continue to take place, while elective surgery that was not essential would now be delayed.
Mr Gregory urged the public to keep themselves safe by practising measures such as thorough handwashing, not going to work if sick and using social distancing.
Eleven Australians have now died from coronavirus in Australia.
- South Coast region 'lost 5000 jobs in barely 24 hours, with 5000 more to go'
- Two in hospital as confirmed coronavirus cases in the Illawarra Shoalhaven jumps to 38
- Iconic Wollongong eatery Chicko's latest casualty of COVID-19 shutdown
- Why hair, beauty and tattoo salons are puzzled by COVID-19 restrictions
We have removed our paywall from our stories about the coronavirus. This is a rapidly changing situation and we aim to make sure our readers are as informed as possible. If you would like to support our journalists you can subscribe here.