National Hockey League players should ensure they have a guarantee the league will cover the costs of any long-term medical issues that might arise if they contract COVID-19 before agreeing to return to play, a Toronto infectious disease specialist says.

Since its discovery in humans about five months ago, the COVID-19 virus has wreaked havoc in the bodies of some of the infected. Besides leaving some patients with permanently scarred lungs, others have been left with damaged kidneys, livers and hearts. There are reports COVID-19 can, in rare instances, infect the eyes, the gastrointestinal tract, and even the brain.

Even in young, fit pro athletes, it is hard to estimate the risks COVID-19 poses, said Dr. Andrew Morris, an infectious disease specialist at Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto who has consulted Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment on the virus.

Dr. Morris has this message for pro athletes weighing a return to the ice, court or field: make sure your leagues and teams commit in writing to covering the costs of medical care, including rehabilitation, hospitalization, prescriptions and counselling (patients on ventilators can suffer later from post-traumatic stress disorder, he says) for any players who contract COVID-19 during the course of their employment.