Researchers found active coronavirus ribonucleic acid (RNA) samples on the Diamond Princess cruise ship up to 17 days after the last of the more than 3,700 people left stranded aboard a port in Yokohama, Japan.
The new scientific finding released Monday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) contrasts with the information handled so far that the virus can maintain its infectious power for no more than three days, depending on the surface material on the found.
The CDC investigation also notes that contagion aboard the cruise ship occurred primarily before quarantine was implemented and peaked after it was launched.
"SARS-CoV-2 RNA was identified on a variety of surfaces in symptomatic and asymptomatic infected passenger cabins up to 17 days after staterooms were vacated on the Diamond Princess, but before the procedures for carrying out disinfection”, explains the investigation.
The study that also looked at the outbreak at the Grand Princess, where 3,317 people were on board, determined that the crew members were likely infected on a first trip, which they then passed on to passengers in the next group.
“Factors that facilitate cruise propagation can include the mix of travelers from multiple geographic regions and the closed nature of a cruise ship environment. The Grand Princess was an example of the perpetuation of the transmission of the crew members through multiple consecutive trips, "says CDC on its online page.
The researchers clarified that they were unable to "determine if transmission occurred from contaminated surfaces", and that this reason warranted further study on the spread of COVID-19 through contact surfaces on cruise ships.
On March 13, the International Association of Cruise Lines announced a 30-day voluntary suspension of cruise operations in the United States.
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