The novel coronavirus, a.k.a. COVID-19, survived in the Diamond Princess cruise ship cabins for up to 17 days after all the passengers were evacuated, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The CDC report published Monday found that the virus survived far longer on surfaces than previously reported.
Researchers examined the Carnival-owned Diamond Princess ship in Japan as well as the Grand Princess ship in California.
The virus affected more than 700 passengers, including crew members, and killed 10 people on the Diamond Princess cruise ship.
The authors wrote, “The virus 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.”
However, they said the finding does not necessarily mean the virus spread by surface.
The CDC wrote, “COVID-19 on cruise ships poses a risk for rapid spread of disease, causing outbreaks in a vulnerable population, and aggressive efforts are required to contain spread.”
The officials have warned vulnerable people to avoid cruises during the ongoing pandemic.
Previously, researchers found that the coronavirus could last up to three days on plastic and stainless steel and the amount of virus over those surfaces reduced over time.
The study researchers wanted to determine how “transmission occurred across multiple voyages of several ships.”
They found that there were at least 25 cruise ships with confirmed coronavirus patients as of March 17, which were diagnosed during or after the cruise ended.
Nearly 50 percent of the Diamond Princess passengers who were tested positive had no symptoms of COVID-19.
The Japanese government and other countries eventually evacuated their citizens after 10 people died.
The researchers also examined the Grand Princess, which was forced to moor off the coast of California after two patients tested positive. The ship had a total of 78 confirmed cases. After a few days, California officials brought the ship to the Port of Oakland, where passengers were evacuated and transported to federal quarantine facilities.