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Please keep donating blood during lockdown, say blood services – here’s where and how you can

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The South African National Blood Service (SANBS) as well as the Western Cape Blood Service (WCBS) implore South Africans to continue donating blood even during lockdown, reports Business Insider.

Both SANBS, which operates in 8 of 9 provinces, and the WCBS, which operates from the Western Cape, are appealing to all donors from all blood groups to continue donating blood to prevent blood stocks running critically low. 

SANBS has only has 5 days’ worth of blood in stock with 36% left of blood type O negative and even scarier 0.7 days’ worth of platelet stock.   

The WCBS likewise is experiencing a shortage of O groups

“We anticipate added pressure on the blood supply during Easter, Ramadaan and the winter months and the added effects of the Coronavirus could see the number of eligible donors decrease in the following few months,” said Michelle Vermeulen, Promotions, PR and Planning Manager for the WCBS. 

While the country prepares to go into lockdown on Friday 27 March, essential services, like blood donation, will still be allowed to operate, say the services.

We appeal to all donors to continue donating blood to prevent blood stocks from running critically low. Donor centres remain open with extended hours to accommodate social distancing measures. Make an appointment before visiting your donor centre.#YourBloodSavesLives pic.twitter.com/Ys3dgLPz5u— The SANBS (@theSANBS) March 24, 2020

However, deferrals are stricter. 

Travel to various donor centres will be considered part essential travel. Regular donor deferral periods as well as new additional Covid-19 imposed deferrals will apply. 

“Should a donor not be feeling well, or exhibit any flu-like symptoms or signs of infection, they will not be permitted to access our facilities,” said Dr Jackie Thomson, SANBS Medical Director. 

As a precaution SANBS and WCBS won’t draw blood from:  

  • People who have travelled to affected countries outside of South Africa will be deferred for 21 days.
  • People with confirmed cases of Coronavirus infection will be deferred for 28 days from the date of complete clearance of symptoms. 
  • People who have been in close contact with confirmed or probable Coronavirus cases will be deferred for 21 days from the last date of contact.

This is as a precautionary measure, and to ensure the safety of blood and blood products during this time. 

The WCBS assure donors that donating blood is safe and there is currently no reason to suspect that Covid-19 can be transmitted through blood transfusion. 

The coronavirus is a respiratory virus, and in in general, are not known to be transmitted by blood transfusion, and there have been no reported cases of transfusion-transmitted coronavirus. 

Routine blood donor health assessment measures already require good hygiene practices like washing hands and using hand sanitiser. 

If you do test positive for Covid-19 within 28 days of donating blood, urgently contact the blood service centre. 

SANBS is open for business and now with extended hours. 

“All of our donor centres will remain open with extended operating hours to accommodate social distancing measures,” said SANBS in a statement. 

SANBS will be extending their hours to between 08:00 to 19:00 on weekdays and 08:00 to 14:00 on weekends. 

They said shopping mall donor centres and mobile drives will be set up at large grocery stores to accommodate more donors. Appointments can be made directly with your nearest donor centre to avoid queuing at the donor centre. 

You can visit the SANBS website here and type in your address to find your closest centre. 

WCBS operates in the Western Cape. 

WCBS has three fixed donation clinics in Cape Town, as well as at each regional office. 

  • N1 City Mall – Shop 38.
  • Blue Route Mall – Shop G56.
  • 9 Long Street 

All other clinics are ‘mobile’, which means we might visit an area near you with one of their caravans or the Blood Bus. 

To find out where your nearest donation clinic is, click here