KUALA LUMPUR: The transition to the Covid-10 endemic phase requires people to be knowledgeable, honest, tenacious and responsible.
Malaysian Public Health Physicians' Association president Professor Dr Mohamed Rusli Abdullah said this is necessary to minimise the risk of being infected and infecting others.
"It is best to note that 'endemic phase' is originally an epidemiological term. When it is used to define the transition, people should be informed what an endemic phase for Covid-19 is all about.
"Does it mean that we no longer need to observe the existing standard operating procedures (SOP) or is it safe for people to engage in all routine activities that they were involved in before the pandemic was declared?
"Even before the authorities were set to announce the transition from the pandemic to endemic phase, we were already seeing people openly flouting the SOP.
"In its essence, transitioning to endemic phase means we are accepting the fact that Covid-19 can't be eliminated from the environment and community, and we will have to live with it.
"However, are we ready to live with it?" he said to the New Straits Times.
Dr Rusli, who personally agreed with the decision to postpone Malaysia's transition to the endemic phase, said the transition from pandemic to endemic must be done with clear definitions.
"There are many indicators and parameters that can be used for the purpose. So far we have not been furnished with the final list of indicators that will eventually be used to define the transition."
Asked if the postponement can prevent another lockdown or emergence of new clusters, Dr Rusli said it was difficult to ascertain.
"This is simply because it depends on other measures that include those already practised and enforced now such as wearing face masks, social distancing and using sanitisers, among others."
On Jan 11, Senior Defence Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein said the government had put on hold its plan to move into the endemic phase.
He said the plan will proceed once the country was able to manage several unexpected incidents in the country, namely the recent massive floods affecting several states as well as the spread of the Omicron variant among overseas returnees, including 'umrah' pilgrims.