Traces of the novel coronavirus were detected on a number of surfaces in cabins aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship up to 17 days after passengers disembarked, a new report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says.

The CDC report, released on Monday, said RNA from the virus was found “on a variety of surfaces in cabins of both symptomatic and asymptomatic infected passengers up to 17 days after cabins were vacated” but before disinfection procedures were conducted.

The report’s authors cautioned, though, that the data “cannot be used to determine whether transmission occurred from contaminated surfaces.”

The CDC says further study of COVID-19 transmission from inanimate objects “is warranted.”

What is RNA and what does this mean?

According to Alon Vaisman, an infection control physician at the University of Toronto, RNA is the “the basic building block of the genetic code for the virus.”

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He said RNA being found on a surface does not necessarily mean that the virus is alive, just that the virus was there at some point.

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