Long Term Impact On Divers

April 24, 2020


From Doug Elsey, Canadian Association Of Diving Contractors


I got this in the mail last night and am about to post it on the CADC website. I checked on the net on false news sites (SNOPES.COM) and other places and it seems legit. I thought I’d error on the side of caution and to get it out there – risking being accused as an alarmist – I am direct posting this to the CADC members and the diving industry stakeholders. Take what you want from the article.

Source of this was from a couple of Dive Safety Supervisors amongst our members who alerted me to this. It is quite serious. Ill let you decide but thought I should get his out ASAP. Check it out further and alert me if there is follow up and to its authenticity

Please read it … its important. It definately impacts the health of our diving personnel.

The original article is as the following link:

Source: https://www.caymancompass.com/2020/04/24/divers-face-long-term-health-impact-from-covid-19/



“Doctors and scientists are learning every day about the harmful effects of COVID-19. The long-term impact of the disease on recovered patients is only slowly emerging.

First indications paint a devastating picture for a number of divers, who had seemingly recovered from the lung disease.

Dr. Frank Hartig, a senior physician at the University Clinic Innsbruck in Austria, has treated six divers who were infected with the coronavirus but had suffered only mild symptoms. None of the six had to remain in hospital and all recuperated at home.

Although all six patients were deemed clinically recovered, the long-term damage to their lungs appears irreversible, Hartig told Austria Press Agency.

CT scans of the patients’ lungs revealed such an extent of damage that it makes a full recovery unlikely.

“This is shocking, we don’t understand what’s going on here. They are probably lifelong patients,” he said.

Two of the six patients exhibited irritable lungs, similar to asthmatics. Two patients suffered a lack of oxygen supply indicative of a persistent pulmonary shunt. And scans of four patients showed significant changes to their lungs.

The images were so at odds with the healthy-looking patients sitting in front of him, Hartig said in the interview, he had to double-check with the X-ray department that the files had not been mixed-up.

The extreme cases prompted Hartig, an avid diver himself, to write an article for German-language dive publication Wetnotes to warn divers of the potential long-term health damage of the coronavirus.

In the article, the head of the accident and emergency department at the clinic in Innsbruck advises that divers who have contracted COVID-19 in the past must consult a dive physician before entering the water again, even if they only had mild symptoms.

Hartig said it is now certain that patients who feel fully recovered can still suffer from severe effects of the lung disease weeks and months later, prohibiting diving and many other forms of exercise.

Professional divers, like dive instructors or commercial divers, should do everything they can to avoid a coronavirus infection, he wrote.

One particular problem in severe cases appears to be related to the treatment with oxygen. In his article, Hartig outlines how many patients who were given oxygen saw their blood levels initially improve, only to suffer lung failure a short time later, forcing a transfer to the intensive care unit. Many doctors have the feeling that oxygen causes a cascading domino effect, he said.

Sensitivity to higher oxygen levels after COVID-19 can become a problem for divers who are using nitrox. This mixture of nitrogen and oxygen, sometimes called enriched air, uses a higher share of oxygen than in regular air, typically 32% to 36% compared to the regular 21%, to reduce some of the side effects of breathing nitrogen under water.

Scientific studies confirming these limited clinical observations are not expected before next year.”

Text From Article

Should you have any additional information or  links we should be aware of to put on this list, please send them to delsey@cadc.ca for inclusion.Be safe. Stay healthy. As always, we wish you, your family and your personnel well in this difficult time. Encourage others. And be kind.

We’re divers. Lets get through this.

Doug Elsey, P.Eng.
CADC Executive Director

Canadian Association of Diving Contractors

C/O: 6382 Coachford Way,
Mississauga, Ont. L5N3V8

Phone: 1.905.542.7410 Email: Delsey@CADC.CA


Yes – I did definately get some comments back on sending this out. I knew there would be a risk in making public what I found.

And I certainly debated about sending it. I did a lot of searching on this and had to decide to either hold it – or let it go.

Checking on this below … on who Dr. Hartig is for instance … I came up with…


 Search Terms: Dr. Frank Hartig University Clinic Innsbruck – Google.

Holding back publically available information – that I am constantly searching for and checking – without letting others know what happens in the background doesn’t help anyone.

It’s a caution about potential risk to divers …… and it’s a serious one.  They are entitled to know.

So I decided to let it go and risk being an alarmist. I reluctantly take that risk in the hope that it does some good. (And I detest alarmists ….)

Yes … doctors, scientists and stakeholders have to dig more into this. Sending this out has triggered some of our diving physician members to dig deeper too. That is exactly what we need.

But while they are digging – our personnel are still working on that front line as they are in essential services for repair, maintenance to keep our infrastructure intact throught out this.

Stay safe, dont take it all lightly. Use your own judgement.

Because if they are right ………………….