The COVID-19 pandemic is nearing the endemic phase in the national capital, said Delhi Health Minister Satyendar Jain even as the city has been witnessing a marginal spike in the daily cases.
"We believe that the pandemic phase is ending, and we are now entering the endemic phase," said Mr Jain.
A pandemic is the spread of a disease beyond national borders, across a continent or even around the world while an endemic is the usual persistence of an infectious disease in a given region and affects a large part of the population. The disease, at this phase, remains at a steady state, but do not disappear from a population.
"It's like the case of H1N1 or Swine Flu, which came to Delhi around eight to ten years ago. So, it's an endemic as every year a few cases crop up. Similary, we don't think the disease (COVID-19) would be completely wiped out, a few cases will remain," he added.
Mr Jain's remark comes even as the Union Health Ministry in its statement on Sunday included Delhi in the list of eight states that are displaying an upward trajectory in daily cases.
India's top medical body has also sounded a note of caution. "I beg to differ from him. The decision about whether it is a pandemic or endemic has to be taken by scientific bodies like the World Health Organisation or ICMR. It cannot be a political decision and we cannot loosen our grip and guard against coronavirus infections at this crucial point. It can be disastrous," Dr JA Jayalal, president of Indian Medical Association, told NDTV.
"The whole world has seen second wave of coronavirus, but fortunately India has not seen that and we need to continue with our precautions. Let us not argue over whether it is a pandemic or endemic. We should just continue to work with sincerity so that we can tide over this virus," said Dr Jayalal.
The national capital recorded 312 fresh COVID-19 cases on Friday, the highest number of daily cases in nearly one-and-a-half months.
The number of active cases in the city also increased to 1,779 on Friday from 1,701 on Thursday, while the positivity rate rose to 0.53 from 0.39 per cent the previous day.
The Delhi Health Minister has, however, said that the positivity rate in the national capital has been consistently below one percent for the last two months.
"The positivity rate in Delhi has been below one percent for the last two months. After over 90,000 Covid tests done in a day, the positive rate was recorded at 0.3 per cent. These fluctuations between 0.5 and 0.3 percent isn't very concerning. The bed occupancy in hospitals is less than 10 per cent," he said.
Meanwhile, the daily rise in new coronavirus infections were recorded above 18,000 for the second consecutive day, taking India's total tally of COVID-19 cases to 1,12,10,799, the Union Health Ministry said on Sunday.