It is premature to discuss Covid-19 becoming endemic when daily infections are still high, said Iskandar Puteri MP Lim Kit Siang.
While Lim agreed that Malaysians eventually needed to move away from a zero Covid-19 policy to a "live with Covid-19" policy, he said the country remains in pandemic mode as long as daily infections are elevated.
"I am reminded of what Anthony Fauci, director of the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said recently that the US was still 'in pandemic mode', far from the 10,000 cases a day that (US) would begin to feel more 'comfortable'".
"Fauci said: 'Right now, we’re still in pandemic mode because we have 160,000 new infections a day'.
"For Malaysia, we cannot claim that the pandemic has ended unless we are having 1,000 cases or less a day," Lim said in a statement.
Lim was responding to Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin describing Covid-19 as endemic and the formulation of policies with the expectation that Covid-19 will remain persistent.
"Many pandemics do end and become endemic, morphing into something that is no longer an emergency, but rather an annoyance, an ugly and even painful fact of life that people simply learn to cope with, like the flu or common cold – but the question is when and how we get to that point,” said Lim.
"Vaccines have changed the balance with the ability to contain Covid-19’s worst outcomes – severe illness, hospitalisation and death – but vaccines alone cannot drive hospitalisations and deaths to zero with the rise of Delta and other variants. Vaccines provide great but not perfect protection."
Lim said Malaysia cannot claim to be out of pandemic mode when it remains in the world's top 10 for new daily Covid-19 cases.
Yesterday, Malaysia recorded 21,176 new Covid-19 cases with 341 deaths.
That placed Malaysia fifth in the world in terms of new Covid-19 cases, according to Worldometer's Covid-19 tracking.