As most of us are aware, COVID-19 can be contracted by coming into contact with droplets of bodily fluid from an infected person. Performing chest compressions as part of CPR can mobilize droplets, much like coughing can. Since even asymptomatic people can carry and spread the virus, it is nearly impossible for a bystander to determine their risk of contracting the virus when intervening and performing CPR.
The novel coronavirus, also known as SARS-CoV-2, is the cause of the disease COVID-19, which has killed 87,987 people worldwide at the time of this article (1). SARS-CoV-2 is part of the viral group known as “corona” (Latin for “crown” or “halo”) because of the pattern of proteins that stud its surface (2). It is estimated that this group of viruses is responsible for 15%-30% of acute respiratory infections each year (3). These numbers, however, are subject to rapid change as a result of the current pandemic.
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COVID-19 symptoms range from mild to severe. Some people have no symptoms at all while others require complicated stays in ICUs with ventilatory support to recover. In addition to the impact of the primary viral infection, factors such as underlying medical conditions, age, secondary complications and more will affect recovery .
COVID-19 shares many features with other serious viral pneumonias and requires a period of convalescence before returning to normal activities. The amount of time needed to recover will vary, as will the long-term effects of COVID-19 such as pulmonary function. As information becomes available it will be incorporated into COVID-19 prevention, treatment and follow-up guidelines.
Determination of your fitness to return to diving after a COVID-19 infection will require assessment by your physician team confirming your full recovery and ability to safely perform unrestricted vigorous activity.
If your doctor needs to consult with a dive medicine specialist, DAN doctors are here to help. We also have a database of dive medicine doctors and can provide referral information. Call us at +1 (919) 684-2948, 9am-5pm ET, Monday thru Friday.
In addition, we urge all divers who have recovered from COVID-19 infection to call DAN for up-to-date information. As always, continue to follow all recommended precautions and stay safe!