Coronavirus: Canadian Blood Services concerned about possibility of shortages amid outbreak

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Canadian Blood Services (CBS) is concerned about the possibility of blood shortages as the country grapples with the coronavirus pandemic.

Inventories of blood and blood products are “very strong” at the moment, said Dr. Isra Levy, CBS’ vice president of medical affairs and innovation.

But that can change very quickly, he said. In the last few days, he said, CBS has seen cancellations of individual appointments and some group events hosted by employers.

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“This is giving us a lot of concern about impending shortages of blood components because the hospital needs for blood, of course, continue and people with critical illness or trauma who need blood will still need the blood,” he said.

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There are now more than 300 Canadian cases of COVID-19, the illness caused by the new coronavirus, and officials have urged Canadians to practice social distancing in order to slow the spread.

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Nearly all major entertainment and sporting events have been cancelled, Parliament has been suspended, and some employers have encouraged or mandated working from home.

But despite the circumstances, the need for blood persists. Those who are healthy, not ill and have not had contact with anyone diagnosed with the virus are being encouraged to donate, Dr. Levy said.

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“The request is please keep your appointments,” he said. “And if you’re able to make a new appointment because you haven’t given blood in the last 56 days, or 84 for women, then please do consider registering yourself now and going online and making an appointment to come in, because this is something we can do as a civic duty.”

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All Canadian Blood Services clinics are currently open, though Dr. Levy said that some could temporarily close depending on how the outbreak unfolds. Enhanced infection control measures in place, he said.

The organization has had a plan in place regarding COVID-19 for six weeks, he said, and contingencies are also in place in the event of a blood shortage.

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