WASHINGTON -- Dr. Anthony Fauci says social and physical distancing guidelines designed to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus could be relaxed when the country sees "essentially no new cases" or deaths for a period of time.
Fauci had been asked in the White House Wednesday if the distancing measures would be necessary until a vaccine or treatment is developed.
He continued: "The one thing...I believe we will have in place is a much more robust system to be able to identify someone who was infected, isolate them and then do contact tracing."
"If you have a really good program of containment, that prevents you from ever having to get into mitigation. We're in mitigation right now, that's what this social and physical distancing is," he explained.
Fauci added, though, that the "ultimate solution to a virus that might keep coming back would be a vaccine."
Fauci said that he was on a World Health Organization conference call with other health officials who "came to the agreement that we may have cycling with another season" but said the world will be "much better prepared" and "will likely have interventions."
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Social distancing are practices implemented by public health officials to keep contagious diseases from spreading.
The measures are aimed at trying to cut down the amount of virus spreading around, and ultimately protect those most vulnerable, including the elderly and people with weakened immune systems.
For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. But for others, especially older adults and people with health problems, it can cause severe symptoms like pneumonia.
Coronavirus in the US: Fauci weighs in on how long social distancing will be necessary