Coronavirus Found in Cruise Ship up to 17 Days After Passenger Left

By Edo Paz, MD
Medically reviewed checkmarkMedically reviewed
April 1, 2020
Photo by Dan Kb

Researchers studying two cruise ships that were sites of COVID-19 outbreaks found coronavirus RNA on surfaces in the ships up to 17 days after passengers left. This is much longer than other viruses like the flu, which can typically be found on surfaces for up to two days. The coronavirus RNA was found in the cabins of passengers who were both symptomatic and asymptomatic from infection. Of note, the evidence of the virus was found prior to disinfection procedures.

Previously, research had found that coronavirus can last up to three days on plastic and stainless steel. The findings help explain why the cruise ships were the sites of COVID-19 outbreaks across multiple voyages, infecting more than 800 passengers and crew members on the two ships studied. These findings suggest another challenge in containing the COVID pandemic, and reinforce the importance of the basics – including avoiding commonly used surfaces, frequently washing your hands, and not touching your face.

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K Health articles are all written and reviewed by MDs, PhDs, NPs, or PharmDs and are for informational purposes only. This information does not constitute and should not be relied on for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment.

Edo Paz, MD

Edo Paz is the VP of Medical at K Health. Dr. Paz has two degrees in chemistry from Harvard and earned his medical degree from Columbia University. He did his medical training in internal medicine and cardiology at New York-Presbyterian. In addition to his work at K Health, Dr. Paz is a cardiologist at White Plains Hospital, part of the Montefiore Health System.