Is Scuba Diving Safe in The Andamans
As India (and most of the world) starts to open up and learn to live with COVID, a very common question we get asked is – is scuba diving safe in the Andamans, specifically from a COVID point of view.
To start with, let’s be clear on something – COVID hasn’t gone away and likely, will not for the foreseeable short/middle term. So the only way to maximize exposure to COVID is to stay at home and self-isolate.
When we go out and about – be it to the grocery store, be it to a restaurant, be it to work – we do have a certain additional risk that we are exposed to. So a more apt way of looking at things would be- is that exposure greater or lower if we come to the Andamans for scuba diving?
In our opinion, coming for a trip to the Andamans does not pose a significant incremental risk – and in fact, is quite likely to result in a lower risk of exposure. This is for a bunch of reasons.
The first and foremost is that Andamans, at present, has negligible cases of COVID (4, at the time of writing this article on Feb 23, 2021). That means a very low risk of transmission by exposure.
Second, everyone who flies to the Andamans is required to get a COVID-negative test done within 48 hours of taking the flight. As is, the case load across the country has dropped significantly and by adding a COVID test, this minimizes the potential of exposure even further.
Thirdly, all tourist places are following regular safety protocols – sanitization, temperature checks, requiring people to wear a mask at all times.
Specifically to diving, we follow the protocols laid down by Divers Alert Network and PADI for sanitizing and disinfecting equipment between dives. We have also shifted much of our classroom training to online sessions, to minimize exposure and contact. Lastly, the fact that diving is conducted off a boat (ie, not in an enclosed space with recirculated air) also helps reduce the viral load, if any.
Look, we are not experts with complex mathematical models to determine risk. However, as people who live and dive in a place with no COVID cases (Havelock and Neil don’t have any recorded cases), we are acutely aware of the risk to ourselves, if nothing else. Based on the information available, we feel very confident that the risk – while not zero – is may actually be lower than what it would be based on just regular day-to-day life at home.