Coronavirus traces lingered on cruiser for 17 days after evacuation

Weeks after passengers were evacuated from the ship, researchers found evidence of COVID-19 still in their rooms

Residue of the coronavirus was found on surfaces inside of cruise ship rooms up to 17 days after infected passengers left the ship.

Diamond Princess
YOKOHAMA, JAPAN - FEBRUARY 10: Emergency workers in protective clothing exit the Diamond Princess cruise ship at Daikoku Pier where it is being resupplied and newly diagnosed coronavirus cases taken for treatment as it remains in quarantine after a number of the 3,700 people on board were diagnosed with coronavirus, on February 10, 2020 in Yokohama, Japan. 130 passengers are now confirmed to be infected with coronavirus as Japanese authorities continue treating people on board. The new cases bring the total number of infections to 156 in Japan, the largest number outside of China. (Photo by Carl Court/Getty Images)

Residue of the coronavirus was found on surfaces inside of cruise-ship rooms up to 17 days after infected passengers left the ship.

The finding, which is considerably longer than previously thought, was unveiled in a report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Researchers examined the rooms of infected passengers on board the Diamond Princess and still found traces of the coronavirus nearly three weeks after those passengers— both those who had symptoms of the virus and those who didn’t— had disembarked. Diamond Princess is operated by Carnival Corps’ Princess Cruises and reported more than 700 coronavirus cases.

READ MORE: First U.S. minor dead of coronavirus in Los Angeles

The CDC said the 700 passengers spread the virus before the ship went into quarantine, causing infections among the crew to rise afterward.

An earlier analysis found that the virus lived for up to three days on plastic and stainless steel surfaces, according to Bloomberg. The coronavirus didn’t last as long on copper or cardboard, where no traces of the virus were found after four hours and 24 hours, respectively, according to the report in the New England Journal of Medicine.

This is believed to be the first time the CDC has found that the virus remained on surfaces for such an extended time period than what was previously found. However, CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report said it was unknown whether the coronavirus found on the surfaces inside the cruise cabins caused any of the 700 coronavirus cases.

Coronavirus has shut the U.S. cruise industry down after widespread outbreaks, and legislators are currently studying the safety of cruise ships going forward.

READ MORE: LGBTQ community uniquely impacted by COVID-19, research shows

The Diamond Princess was quarantined off of Yokohama, Japan, and its sheer number of coronavirus passengers represented the largest outbreak outside of mainland China at one point.

The latest study looked at uncleaned rooms and their surfaces. Other research found that properly cleaning the rooms of COVID-19 patients showed effective results at killing the virus.