BALTIMORE (WJZ) — At least 17 people have died from the rapidly spreading coronavirus. China is now quarantining 11 million people to keep the virus from spreading as five airports across the United States have started screening travelers coming from China.

Back in Baltimore, inside the bio-containment unit at Johns Hopkins Hospital, high boot covers, surgical gowns and portable respirators are all being used by the doctors and nurses to minimize the contamination- preparing for the possibility of a highly contagious virus such as the coronavirus.

Medical Director Brian Garibaldi said these facilities are crucial, as the U.S. has confirmed multiple cases of coronavirus.

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“It is scary! I think right now there’s a lot of unknowns and the important thing is that we’re learning new information every day, and we’re being prepared for something that could be really bad, we’re hoping it’s not going to be.” Dr. Garibaldi said.

Thursday, his team practiced treating a patient with a contagious respiratory virus.

“What we’re worried about in this current outbreak is that we don’t yet know how virulent this virus is or how dangerous it can be to the average person and we also don’t know how easily its spread from person to person.” Dr. Garibaldi said.

And the flu season doesn’t help.

“What’s really challenging right now is that its flu season and the symptoms can be exactly the same as the flu.” Dr. Garibaldi said.

Johns Hopkins Hospital has the only biocontainment unit of its kind in the Mid-Atlantic and it can treat up to four patients at one time and be ready in less than eight hours.

Annie Rose Ramos

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