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CDC clarifies live, infectious virus NOT found 17 days later on Princess ship

Diamond Princess.jpeg
Certain Diamond Princess cabins were voluntarily preserved for study before disinfection
US health officials clarified that live, infectious SARS-CoV-2 was not found in Diamond Princess cabins up to 17 days after they were vacated.

Virus survives on surfaces only up to 72 hours

A US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report about COVID-19 outbreaks on cruise ships was misinterpreted by some, prompting the CDC to link to a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine which found infectious SARS-CoV-2 can survive for only up to 72 hours on plastic and steel and up to 24 hours on cardboard.

Princess Cruises also provided additional context to the CDC’s report.

Certain cabins preserved for testing before disinfection

Not mentioned in the report is the fact that Princess volunteered to preserve select cabins on board Diamond Princess that had been occupied by positive cases. This testing was done in full collaboration with the Japan Ministry of Health and CDC, the line said, and the findings were expected because the rooms were preserved for this testing.

This testing was designed to support the two public health agencies in collecting more data to inform further research on the virus.

RNA findings indicated virus had been present

According to researchers at Japan’s National Institute of Infectious Diseases, what was detected on surfaces was SARS-CoV-2 RNA, not live virus, in select cruise ship cabins after they were vacated. This testing was intentionally conducted before disinfection occurred.

RNA, short for ribonucleic acid, is material that carries the genetic information of many viruses. It can indicate if the virus was present but does not indicate the virus was still alive. 

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