Coronavirus Australia live update: NSW records new local Covid case in Sydney; Australian cricketers to leave India

4.07am EDT04:07

Australia’s High Commissioner in India, former NSW premier Barry O’Farrell, said the number of Australians registered with the government as “vulnerable” had increased from 600 to 900 over the past week.

“We look forward to the resumption of flights we can assist the 900 people who are vulnerable, to get back home,” O’Farrell told ABC.

However he said the Department of Foreign Affairs was unsure if any Australians were currently in hospital suffering from Covid.

“Well within the vulnerable cohort that is registered in Canberra, as well as across the 9000, people have registered with us, people who have suffered in the past from Covid or maybe…infected currently. We are saying to those people who are registered with us, if they have difficulties, please contact us so that we can do what we can to assist.”

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Just a bit more on the NSW Labor cyberattack.

A spokesperson for the party said:

This is a matter of serious concern. We have referred the matter to police and we are conducting a full investigation.

The people who are behind the attack operate by delivering the ransomware via phishing emails with malicious attachments in the form of a zip archive file.

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3.20am EDT03:20

The New South Wales branch of the Labor party has been the latest organisation to be hit by a ransomware attack.

The AFR reported the party was hit by the Avaddon ransomware group, encrypting files held by NSW Labor and threatening to leak sensitive documents including contracts, licenses, passports and employee information unless payment is made in ten days.

NSW police told Guardian Australia:

Detectives from Sydney City Police Area Command are aware of the incident and have commenced inquiries.

Ransomware attacks are hitting more and more companies, with Mimecast’s state of email security 2021 report released last month suggesting 64% of Australian businesses had been disrupted by a ransomware attack in the past year, up from 48% the previous year.

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2.52am EDT02:52

Cricketers to escape India

Australia’s cricketers will escape the worsening Covid-19 situation in India by flying to Sri Lanka or the Maldives before taking a chartered flight home once the government’s controversial travel ban is lifted.

Cricket Australia and the players’ union said on Wednesday they were working on arrangements to repatriate the cohort of 38 players, coaches and staff who remain in India as quickly and as safely as possible.

CA CEO Nick Hockley said:

What we and the BBC are working to do, and they’ve been incredibly cooperative, is to move the entire cohort out of India, where they will then wait until it’s possible to return to Australia.

The BCCI has been working on a range of options. That’s now narrowed down to the Maldives and Sri Lanka. The BCCI are working through the final details of that at the moment and we expect that movement will happen in the next two to three days.

Coach Mike Hussey, who has tested positive for the virus, will have to remain in India to see out his period of quarantine.

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2.48am EDT02:48

Former Australian Test cricketer Stuart MacGill was allegedly kidnapped and held against his will for an hour last month, but did not immediately go to police out of “significant fear” for his and his family’s safety.

NSW police said on Wednesday that four men, including a 46-year-old known to MacGill, have been arrested following an investigation into the incident on Sydney’s lower north shore on 14 April.

Detective acting superintendent Anthony Holton said NSW police believed MacGill may have been targeted for financial reasons, although no ransom demand was made.

“We think it [the motive] was purely financial – he was seen as someone they could get money from, although no money was paid prior to him being released,” Holton said.

MacGill, who played 44 Tests and took 208 wickets between 1998 and 2008, was allegedly confronted by a man in Cremorne around 8pm before two other men appeared and MacGill was forced into a vehicle.

Read more about this wild story:

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1.59am EDT01:59

Professor of global security at UNSW, Raina MacIntyre, has used mathematical modelling to determine the effectiveness of a range of Covid-19 vaccine strategies.

Published in the medical journal Vaccine, it says because vaccine supply is limited, the government has adopted a targeted approach, vaccinating the most high-risk and vulnerable first, to make the most of the limited supply.

The study found while this approach is effective at reducing deaths from Covid-19, it ultimately will not mitigate an epidemic scenario should an outbreak occur. The best exit strategy from the pandemic will be mass vaccination to achieve herd immunity, the study says.

MacIntyre said:

A limited supply requires a targeted strategy where particular populations are prioritised.

We show that for a population of 7.5 million people [ie, NSW], if faced with an epidemic and an initial restriction in vaccine supply, sustained epidemic control cannot be achieved by this smaller, targeted vaccination strategy.

Other non-pharmaceutical interventions, such a face mask use, physical distancing, and limits on the movement of people through travel, will need to continue to mitigate any outbreaks.

The study shows that ultimately, adequate and effective vaccine supply coupled with rapid delivery is the only way to prevent sustained transmission in the community, and also improve prospects for economic recovery by removing the need for ongoing social restrictions.

MacIntyre said:

While our model shows that a targeted vaccine strategy can still reduce illness and death from Covid-19 – it is clear that a mass vaccination strategy would be far more effective at controlling disease.

Encouragingly, our model suggests that herd immunity can be achieved in states like NSW by vaccinating two thirds of the population with a high efficacy vaccine.

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