The NSW premier has pleaded with residents to continue practising social distancing as economic restrictions are gradually lifted and winter approaches.

Gladys Berejiklian says when all the strict COVID-19 restrictions were in place, authorities made sure the health system was upscaled so it could cater to additional cases, especially during the winter months.

But the premier on Tuesday acknowledged that, with the easing of restrictions and greater activity, there could be an increase in cases and again urged residents to maintain social distancing to keep numbers down.

Four new COVID-19 were reported on Tuesday, three of them staff members of the Anglicare-run Newmarch House nursing home.

The facility, near Penrith, also confirmed a 16th resident infected with COVID-19 had died, raising the state’s death toll to 46.

Thirty-seven of the 100-odd residents at the nursing home have tested positive to the virus.

The fourth COVID-19 case was a health worker from the Nepean-Blue Mountains district who did not work while infectious.

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NSW has recorded 3035 COVID-19 cases to date, with 13 currently in intensive care.

Meanwhile, the Special Commission of Inquiry into the Ruby Princess is set to continue holding hearings on Wednesday and Friday with about 10 witnesses expected to give evidence.

The inquiry heard from NSW Health senior epidemiologist Kelly-Anne Ressler on Tuesday who was reduced to tears after it was suggested there had been a “reprehensible shortcoming” by the department when the cruise ship’s passengers were allowed to disembark in Sydney.

The commission is trying to uncover the missteps of the ill-fated cruise ship linked to more than 20 coronavirus deaths and 600 infections across Australia.

AAP.

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