New data published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that coronavirus RNA, the genetic material of the virus that causes COVID-19, survived on surfaces on the Diamond Princess cruise ship for 17 days after passengers were evacuated.
The study, released Monday, examined the Diamond Princess cruise ship docked in Yokohama, Japan and the Grand Princess cruise ship docked at the Port of Oakland in California, both of which were quarantined due to cases of COVID-19 onboard.
The RNA was found on multiple surfaces in the Diamond Princess cabins up to 17 days after the ship was vacated but before the disinfection process occurred, researchers said.
However, the CDC said that researchers could not determine if transmission occurred from contaminated surfaces on the ship.
The study also deduced that transmission on the Diamond Princess ship largely occurred among passengers before they were quarantined, while crew members were largely infected during and after quarantine.
The Diamond Princess ship was previously the site of the most cornavirus cases outside of China, with 621 people onboard testing positive for the disease. Two people — an 87-year-old man and an 84-year-old woman, both Japense — died from the virus last month.
The Grand Princess ship docked at the Port of Oakland and the company reported earlier this month that 21 people — 2 passengers and 19 crew members — tested positive for COVID-19.
Over 2,400 passengers were onboard the ship, and they all completed a mandatory 14-day quarantine.
According to a recent study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, coronavirus can survive for two to three days on plastic and stainless steel.
The findings also showed that the virus can last for up to three hours in aerosols (liquid droplets in the air, from coughs or sneezes), four hours on copper and 24 hours on cardboard.
“The results provide key information about the stability of [the virus] and suggests that people may acquire the virus through the air and after touching contaminated objects,” read a press release from the National Institute of Health.
Since touching objects and surfaces can leave the infectious virus on your fingertips, the CDC recommends washing one’s hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. As a backup, a hand sanitizer can be used, best with at least 60 percent alcohol content.
The CDC also recommends people to avoid touching their eyes, noses and mouths with unwashed hands.
As information about the coronavirus pandemic rapidly changes, PEOPLE is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. Some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For the latest on COVID-19, readers are encouraged to use online resources from CDC, WHO, and local public health departments and visit our coronavirus hub.