AUDIO: Windsor Regional Hospital Monitoring Coronavirus

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Windsor Regional Hospital is monitoring the coronavirus outbreak which has killed 17 people in China and infected hundreds more.

Speaking on AM800's the Afternoon News, hospital Infection Control Director Erika Vitale says patients who are coming with a respiratory illness are asked about their travel history — which is the key to this outbreak.

"We really need to focus on where has a patient presenting with respiratory infection, where have they travelled or if they had any contact with a sick person who has travelled," she says.

Vitale says the hospital actually uses higher level precautions than what is currently being recommended by the World Health Organization, so as of now, nothing is changing at the hospital.

"Currently they are recommending droplet and contact precautions, we are also adding airborne precautions as well, so that is the difference between an airborne and a droplet precaution would be the type of mask," she says.

If a patient comes into the hospital with a travel history to Asian countries, additional precautions will take place including isolating the patient and hospital staff would use special gowns and masks.

Vitale says respiratory illnesses are nothing new at the hospital but not this kind.

"Right now we haven't had anyone that has presented like this, but we are also in the height of flu season so we have a lot of patients coming in with respiratory infection, but not picking up on that travel piece," she adds.

Canadian public health agencies are waiting to hear if the World Health Organization is going to declare a global emergency.    

As of now, the risk for Canadians remains low.

China has decided to lock down two more cities in its efforts to try to contain the deadly viral illness.

It first imposed the quarantine on Wuhan, a city of 11-million people, where the coronavirus began.

The lock down goes into effect tomorrow on two nearby cities, placing movement restrictions on more than 18-million people.

This comes during the Lunar New Year travel rush.

Coronaviruses are a large group of viruses that are common among animals and if contracted, humans can exhibit common cold symptoms or possibly contract pneumonia.