Defer Cruise Travel; Inside the Princess Outbreak — CDC

Buses carrying the Hong Kong passengers from the quarantined Diamond Princess cruise ship leave a port in Yokohama near Tokyo Friday Feb. 21 2020

Buses carrying the Hong Kong passengers from the quarantined Diamond Princess cruise ship leave a port in Yokohama near Tokyo Friday Feb. 21 2020

Despite a number of studies, there is still no definitive timescale for how long the coronavirus can live on surfaces.

Passengers and crew on both ships were quarantined on board after previous guests, who didn't have any symptoms while aboard each of the ships, tested positive for COVID-19 after landing ashore.

What is certain, the CDC says, is that cruise ships are "often settings for outbreaks of infectious diseases due to their closed environment and contact between travelers from many countries", according to the report.

"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 the spread", the CDC wrote, reiterating its guidance to vulnerable populations to avoid cruises during the pandemic.

"Although these data can not be used to determine whether transmission occurred from contaminated surfaces, further study of fomite transmission of SARS-CoV-2 aboard cruise ships is warranted", the CDC stated.

A study recently published in the New England Journal of Medicine suggests that traces of the virus are detectable for up to four hours on copper, 24 hours on cardboard and up to two to three days on plastic and stainless steel.

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Dr. Tara Smith, an infectious disease epidemiologist at the Kent State University College of Public Health, noted that researchers didn't report on how numerous people who didn't show symptoms eventually developed symptoms. "More than 800 cases of laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 cases occurred during outbreaks on three cruise ship voyages, and cases linked to several additional cruises have been reported across the United States".

Nearly half, 46.5% of the infections were asymptomatic when they were tested, partially explaining the "high attack rate" of the virus among passengers and crew.

The company said the unnamed Argentine was "in stable condition at a hospital facility" in Crete, where the person was taken off the ship on Sunday. The Japanese government and other nations eventually evacuated their citizens. The report added that roughly 18% of infected persons never developed symptoms.

Canadian passengers onboard the Grand Princess cruise ship off California were also sent to CFB Trenton after cases of COVID-19 were identified there. A total of 78 cases were eventually tied back to the ship across two separate voyages.

The Diamond Princess was first quarantined in early February after a passenger who previously departed in Hong Kong tested positive for COVID-19.

Over 2,400 passengers were onboard the ship, and they all completed a mandatory 14-day quarantine.

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