This depends on the severity of Covid illness that you had, the duration of symptoms and if you have had structural changes to your lungs. Studies have shown that even with a mild COVID-19 infection there can be lung changes and this has the potential to lead to areas of gas trapping, increasing the risk of pulmonary barotrauma.
We know that Covid lung damage =can last for a long time after the initial infection and it is important that divers are back to their normal level of fitness with no evidence of hypoxia (low oxygen) on exertion before they get back in the water. Any ‘long covid’ symptoms are likely to affect aerobic fitness and exercise capacity which may make it more difficult to cope with physical demands such as strong currents or an emergency.
The current UKDMC guidelines for recreational divers state that you must not dive for 3 months after your Covid illness. After 3 months you must have a medical assessment where we measure your oxygen levels during exercise to ensure that there is no evidence of long-lasting damage to your lungs. If you pass this then we can sign you fit to dive and you can return to the water again.
It is likely that a large proportion of UK divers will be affected by Covid and, for some, it is difficult to understand why it is necessary to undertake a medical if you feel you have returned to your normal fitness. However, these guidelines have been created to protect UK divers and to try and prevent injuries and deaths.
Our current knowledge of the effects of Covid on diving will expand with time. This means that the guidance may change in the future – any updates will be posted on our website.