Coronavirus RNA survived for up to 17 days aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship, lasting far longer on surfaces than previous research has shown, according to new data published Monday (March 23) by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), according to CNBC.
The study examined the Japanese and U.S. government efforts to contain the COVID-19 outbreaks on the Carnival-owned Diamond Princess ship in Japan and the Grand Princess ship in California. Passengers and crew on both ships were quarantined on board after previous guests, who didn’t have any symptoms while aboard each of the ships, tested positive for COVID-19 after landing ashore.
The RNA, the genetic material of the virus that causes COVID-19, “was identified on a variety of surfaces in cabins of both symptomatic and asymptomatic infected passengers up to 17 days after cabins were vacated on the Diamond Princess but before disinfection procedures had been conducted,” the researchers wrote, adding that the finding doesn’t necessarily mean the virus spread by surface.
The CDC said researchers couldn’t “determine whether transmission occurred from contaminated surfaces,” and that further study of COVID-19′s spread through touching surfaces on cruise ships was warranted.
“COVID-19 on cruise ships poses a risk for the rapid spread of disease, causing outbreaks in a vulnerable population, and aggressive efforts are required to contain the spread,” the CDC wrote, reiterating its guidance to vulnerable populations to avoid cruises during the pandemic.
Researchers from the National Institutes of Health, CDC, UCLA and Princeton University previously found that COVID-19 can last up to three days on plastic and stainless steel. That study also found that the amount of the virus left on those surfaces decreased over time.
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