Long term lockdown ‘not sustainable’
A long term lockdown in a bid to stop the spread of the coronavirus could do more harm than good, a Danish political scientist has warned.
Bjorn Lomborg, who is an author and economist, told 60 Minutes Australia: "The reality is, if we just want to stop corona in its tracks, we have to shut down society almost entirely, and in the long run, that is probably not a sustainable solution."
Tough new social distancing policies are now in place around Australia but they are wreaking havoc on the country's economy.
"At some point, there's a tipping point," Mr Lomborg told 60 Minutes. "At some point we actually need to say, 'this is enough. If we go further, we're actually going to damage the economy more than the few extra people we're going to save.'
"When you close down primary and secondary schools, when you close down jobs, are actually creating more damage, more long term death, more long term unemployment and unpleasantness for the whole population compared to what you're achieving in saving lives.
"We need to ask ourselves, how much is too much?" Mr Lomborg said.
The author said the ramifications of a long term lockdown need to be weighed up against the number of deaths we could see if social distancing restrictions are eased.
"In Australia, the speed limit is 110 km per hour," Mr Lomborg said, using an analogy.
"If you want to save everyone who dies in traffic, you should just take it down to 5km per hour. Nobody would die. But of course the point is you don't want to do that because it also has huge social ramifications.
"We should do a lot for corona, but we shouldn't do everything. Just like we should have speed limits, but we shouldn't have speed limits down to 5km per hour."
There are now 6289 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Australia and there have been 59 deaths so far. But the curve is flattening and on Friday, Australia's Deputy Chief Medical Officer said Australia could be "on the cusp" of slowing the number infections to the point that the epidemic "dies out".
Professor Paul Kelly added though: "Whether that's where we're going to be in several weeks or months time, remains to be seen."
Regardless of the promising statistics, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg warned it would be "very dangerous and unrealistic" to remove social distancing restrictions too soon and said they will remain in place "for as long as it takes".
Originally published as Long term lockdown 'not sustainable'