Coronavirus deaths outside of China rise; studies shed light on transmission routes

As of 10 a.m., Feb. 20, the disease COVID-19 has sickened 75,752 and resulted in 2,130 deaths. Globally, 16,882 people have recovered from the illness. 

Key updates: 

1. Two passengers with COVID-19 died after leaving the quarantined cruise ship in Japan, NBC News reports. The deaths, an elderly couple from Japan, are the first related to the Diamond Princess, which was quarantined with nearly 3,700 passengers after a previous passenger later tested positive for the virus. As of Feb. 20, 634 COVID-19 cases have been reported on the ship. Hundreds of passengers began disembarking the ship Feb. 19 after weeks of quarantine.  

2. Protesters in Ukraine burn tires, block hospitals as Ukrainian evacuees from China arrive, NBC News reports. Protesters in Novi Sanzari, Ukraine, blocked the road to a quarantine facility for evacuees landing Feb. 20 from Wuhan, China. To date, there haven't been any COVID-19 cases reported in Ukraine.

3. The virus seems to be stabilizing in China, though reporting measures changed again, CNN reports. On Feb. 20, 349 cases were confirmed in Hubei, about 1,300 fewer than the previous day. Outside of Hubei's capital Wuhan, the number of patients discharged daily has been greater than the number of newly confirmed cases for four consecutive days. However, diagnostic criteria switched again, with officials only reporting lab-confirmed cases after allowing clinical diagnoses by physicians last week. 

4. Five COVID-19 patients will be transferred to a Spokane, Wash.-based hospital, KREM reports. Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center was chosen "because of its secured airborne infection isolation rooms." It's one of 10 hospitals in the U.S. with this feature.

5. COVID-19 can be transmitted multiple ways, according to Minneapolis-based University of Minnesota's Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy. The disease is shed in the feces of infected individuals, which could explain how it spreads quickly, as in the cruise ship outbreak. Scientists also report evidence of viral RNA in anal swabs and blood samples. It may also be possible to contract the virus by inhaling small virus-containing particles in the air, according to Kyodo News. 

6. South Korea and Iran confirmed their first COVID-19 deaths, NBC News reports. South Korea reported its first related death, along with 22 new cases, bringing the nation's total to 104. Iran confirmed its first two deaths of the outbreak. 

7. COVID-19 is deadlier in men than women, according to a study cited by CNBC. Published Feb. 17, the study analyzed 44,672 confirmed COVID-19 cases and revealed a 2.8 percent fatality rate for men, compared to 1.7 percent for women.

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Two passengers with COVID-19 died after leaving the quarantined cruise ship in Japan, NBC News reports. The deaths, an elderly couple from Japan, are the first related to the Diamond Princess, which was quarantined with nearly 3,700 passengers after a previous passenger later tested positive for the virus. As of Feb. 20, 634 COVID-19 cases have been reported on the ship. Hundreds of passengers began disembarking the ship Feb. 19 after weeks of quarantine.

Protesters in Ukraine burn tires, block hospitals as Ukrainian evacuees from China arrive, NBC News reports. Protesters in Novi Sanzari, Ukraine, blocked the road to a quarantine building for evacuees landing Feb. 20 from Wuhan, China. To date, there haven't been any COVID-19 cases reported in Ukraine.

South Korea and Iran confirmed their first coronavirus deaths, NBC News reports. South Korea reported its first death of a person infected with coronavirus, as well as 22 new cases, bringing the nation's total to 104. Iran recorded its first two deaths linked to the coronavirus outbreak.

The virus seems to be stabilizing in China, though reporting measures changed again, CNN reports. On Feb. 20, 349 cases were confirmed in Hubei, about 1,300 fewer than the day before. Outside of Hubei's capital Wuhan, the number of patients discharged daily has exceeded the number of newly confirmed cases for four consecutive days. However, criteria for diagnosing the virus switched again, with officials only reporting lab-confirmed cases from Hubei, after last week allowing clinical diagnoses by physicians.

Five COVID-19 patients will be transferred to a Spokane, Wash.-based hospital, KREM reports. Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center was chosen to treat the patients "because of its secured airborne infection isolation rooms." It's one of 10 hospitals in the U.S. with this feature.

COVID-19 can be transmitted multiple ways, according to the University of Minnesota's Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy. The disease is shed in the feces of infected people, which could explain how it spreads quickly, as in the cruise ship outbreak. Scientists also report evidence of viral RNA in anal swabs and blood samples. It may also be possible to contract the virus by inhaling small virus-containing particles in the air, according to Kyodo News.

7. COVID-19 is deadlier in men than women, according to a study cited by CNBC. Published Feb. 17, the study analyzed 44,672 confirmed COVID-19 cases and revealed a 2.8 percent fatality rate for men, compared to 1.7 percent for women.

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