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A new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report just revealed some insightful and slightly scary facts about the coronavirus. The report shows that the coronavirus was found on surfaces for more than two weeks.
This information should be shared to anybody who plans on traveling even after the outbreak is largely subsided because it underscores the need to sanitize your surroundings regardless of what your hotel, cruise line, or airline tells you that they are doing.
The CDC examined cabins in the Diamond Princess cruise ship and they found traces of the virus on surfaces in the cabin in both symptomatic and asymptomatic passengers 17 days after the passengers had left the cabins.
That is insane to think about.
Now, it is worth pointing out that the cabins had not been disinfected yet.
SARS-CoV-2 RNA was identified on a variety of surfaces in cabins of both symptomatic and asymptomatic infected passengers up to 17 days after cabins were vacated on the Diamond Princess but before disinfection procedures had been conducted
So it is totally possible that after adequate sanitization methods were employed, that the traces of the virus would have been killed.
However, it is definitely good to know that the virus can live for over two weeks on surfaces.
As many frequent travelers are aware of, cleaning crews do not always clean the way that they should and sometimes they just leave surfaces completely untouched.
I have seen it happen multiple times where there is or was an obvious lapse in effort to clean a desk or a piece of furniture.
Another thing to point out is that this report does not state whether or not transmission occurred from the surfaces.
Although these data cannot be used to determine whether transmission occurred from contaminated surfaces, further study of fomite transmission of SARS-CoV-2 aboard cruise ships is warranted.
In other words, we don’t know for sure if someone could have been infected with the virus 16 days after it was already sitting on a surface.
Whether or not that is a possibility is beyond any of my expertise and so we will have to wait until the CDC or other health officials look into that.
I personally will probably avoid cruises for quite a while. First, I think that they transmit diseases more efficiently than other forms of transportation like planes. Consider that between the Diamond Princess and Grand Princess, there were more than 800 COVID-19 cases.
According to the CDC report, “Factors that facilitate spread on cruise ships might include mingling of travelers from multiple geographic regions and the closed nature of a cruise ship environment.”
But more importantly, when diseases do takeoff in cruise ships the logistics become an absolute nightmare when it comes to unloading passengers. And I would just rather not deal with any of that.
But regardless of your travel preferences, this just highlights the need to sanitize your surroundings in your cabin or hotel room or wherever you will be because these viruses could be lingering for very long periods of time.
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Daniel Gillaspia is the Founder of UponArriving.com and creator of the credit card app, WalletFlo. He is a former attorney turned full-time credit card rewards/travel expert and has earned and redeemed millions of miles to travel the globe. Since 2014, his content has been featured in major publications such as National Geographic, Smithsonian Magazine, Forbes, CNBC, US News, and Business Insider. Find his full bio here.