SYDNEY, March 31 (Xinhua) -- Australia would not be able to contain the spread of COVID-19 unless at least 80 percent of the population adopted social distancing measures, research released by the University of Sydney Tuesday has revealed.
The research, led by pandemic modelling expert, Professor Mikhail Prokopenko, also showed the pandemic in Australia could be contained by July if 90 percent of the population adopted distancing measures.
"If we want to control the spread of COVID-19 - rather than letting the disease control us - at least 80 percent of the Australian population must comply with strict social distancing measures for at least four months," Prokopenko said.
"However, if 90 percent of the population complies, then the duration could be as short as 13 to 14 weeks - meaning if we began tomorrow we could expect a control of COVID-19 by July."
Based on the modelling, Prokopenko also stressed the importance of imposing tougher social distancing rules early on as it would reduce the period people have to endure under the restriction policies, and delaying peak infections would leave hospitals more time to get better prepared.
"There is a clear trade off - stricter measures imposed earlier would reduce how long our lives are impacted by this disease. On the contrary, laxer protocols could mean a longer, more drawn out and ineffective struggle against COVID-19," Prokopenko said.
The predictions were based on over 24 million software generated agents and calibrated to 2016 Australian census data to represent the average characteristics of the real Australian population.