CNN begins calling coronavirus outbreak a pandemic

Dr. Sanjay Gupta announced on Monday that CNN will refer to the global coronavirus outbreak as a pandemic, with the network's chief medical correspondent acknowledging that "while we know it sounds alarming, it should not cause panic."

"Starting today, you will notice that CNN is using the term pandemic to describe the current coronavirus outbreak. It is not a decision we take lightly. While we know it sounds alarming, it should not cause panic," Gupta writes on CNN.com.

"So why now? The World Health Organization hasn't called the coronavirus outbreak a pandemic. Nor has the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But many epidemiologists and public health experts argue the world is already experiencing a pandemic because of the novel coronavirus," he continues. "There are now over 100,000 cases and over 3,000 deaths attributed to this new virus. In one day last week, the number of new cases outside of China, where the virus originated, was nearly 9 times higher than the number of new cases in China. This virus has found a foothold on every continent except for Antarctica. In several countries, the number of cases continues to climb."

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A disease outbreak must be widespread on two continents to be labeled a pandemic, according to World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

U.S. public health officials have urged Americans to stay calm while taking measures to protect themselves with more cases expected in the country.

"You don’t want to alarm people, but given the spread we’ve seen anything is possible and that’s why we’ve got to be prepared to take whatever action is appropriate to contain and mitigate the outbreak," said Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, on "Fox News Sunday."

U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams urged the public not to panic during an appearance on CNN on Sunday.

"Initially, we had a posture of containment so that we could give people time to prepare for where we are right now. We're shifting into a mitigation phase, which means that we're helping communities understand you're going to see more cases," he said. "Unfortunately, you're going to see more deaths, but that doesn't mean that we should panic."

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More than 500 cases have been confirmed in the U.S., and 22 people have died from the virus, mostly in Washington state.

The worldwide death toll stands at more than 3,400, with more than 100,000 cases confirmed.

"Humanity has overcome pandemics before. In this globally connected world, we may be asked to add more social distance between each other, but that doesn't mean we can't still collectively come together as a nation and as a world," Gupta concludes. "This is a crisis we can overcome if we can work together."