Longer Covid lockdowns can be more beneficial for health and the economy than easing restrictions before community transmission hits zero, a new study has found.
Research by the Australian National University and University of Melbourne found lockdowns long enough to reduce community transmission to zero far outweighed any short-term gain of relaxing restrictions too early.
Financial support for those affected was also key to ensure compliance across the community.
University of Melbourne Professor Tom Kompas said the economic impact should be considered in the long-term, rather than the initial hit.
"The key point here is not to think about the economic costs over a period of a couple of weeks, large as they are, but rather to consider the costs over a period of months if community transmission continues," he said.
The research comes as NSW health authorities are tackling the Sydney COVID-19 outbreak with a two-week lockdown due to end on July 9.
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The study used models to simulate the effect of different strategies to tackle COVID-19 outbreaks from March to July 2020.
Lead author Quentin Grafton said it found the best strategy to tackle COVID-19 was to "go hard" against infection and cut community transmission to zero.
"This is especially the case now with this Delta variant and Australia's currently low vaccination level," he said.
"The NSW government is under pressure to relax those restrictions, but decisions must be based on the facts on the ground such as the number of new cases, links to known chains of transmission, and the number of new cases not already in self-isolation."
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