Researchers have made the startling discovery that cabins aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship harboured the novel coronavirus for up to 17 days after passengers had left the ship in Yokohama, Japan.
RNA or ribonucleic acid is one of the three major biological macromolecules that are essential for all known forms of life, including viruses like COVID-19.
The findings showed that the virus survived on surfaces for far longer than was originally believed.
It had been previously reported he was a passenger on board the Ruby Princess.
In the analysis, which utilized data from both USA and Japanese health organizations, the CDC reported that the virus' ribonucleic acid (RNA) had survived for 17 days in rooms previously inhabited by symptomatic and asymptomatic passengers aboard the Diamond Princess.
"Because of the lack of consistent messaging, because people had been flouting the earlier advice regarding social distancing measures, we need to move further and quickly to ensure that what we're seeing around the world doesn't mimic and occur on front doors", Australian Medical Association president Tony Bartone told reporters.
While it's possible to get the new virus by touching an infected object then touching your face, it's a respiratory illness, so it's primarily transmitted by inhaling droplets of it in the air after an infected person coughs or sneezes.
The report, published Monday, examined data from the Diamond Princess cruise ship, which was quarantined after passengers began testing positive for COVID-19 in February.
"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 report said. The quarantine lasted almost a month.
The CDC's report comes after previous studies suggested the coronavirus may be able to live on some surfaces - namely glass, metal or plastic - for up to nine days, per a study published in The Journal of Hospital Infection which analyzed other human coronaviruses (e.g., SARS, MERS).
Some experts criticized the quarantine and said it allowed the virus to spread.
STRICTER LOCKDOWNSWith the number of COVID-19 cases rising quickly, Australia is poised for stricter lockdowns as the shock from the global pandemic hits the economy hard.
"Cruise ships are often settings for outbreaks of infectious diseases due to their closed environment and contact between travelers from many countries", said the CDC.