Efforts ramp up on blood donation as supply falls
Shiyan in Hubei province－center of the novel coronavirus outbreak－joined a string of other Chinese cities on Monday to declare that a blood famine is imminent.
The coronavirus outbreak has crippled the streetside blood donation kiosks, which has strained local supplies and threatened clinical blood use, according to an announcement by the city's epidemic prevention authorities.
Authorities pleaded to locals in good health aged between 18 and 55 to donate blood, adding that members of the Communist Party of China, government employees, soldiers, hospital workers and college students should take the lead and set an example.
Faced with similar situations, a number of blood banks have launched awareness campaigns and rolled out services allowing people to make appointments for a donation on the doorstep.
The Jiangxi Provincial Blood Center said it had texted millions of phone users in Nanchang, the provincial capital, offering to make house calls to potential donors. It also advised those who wish to donate on site to wear face masks and make appointments on its WeChat account to avoid crowds.
The center said 410 people donated more than 130 liters of blood on Feb 3 and 4, signs that the awareness campaign was working.
The Chongqing Blood Center this month rolled out similar services to ease the blood shortage. The center said 185 people made online appointments on Feb 4, and 60 people donated 21.7 liters on Feb 4 and 5. The blood bank in Chongqing has had to strain to meet clinical demands, especially for "universal donor" Type-O blood, Xinhua News Agency reported on Feb 6.
The demand for blood has remained stable during the coronavirus outbreak, experts say. Blood transfusions are essential for severe novel coronavirus pneumonia patients after organ failures lead to anemia and blood coagulation dysfunctions or necessitate ECMO treatment, according to the Jiangxi blood center.
The virus had killed 1,868 people on the Chinese mainland as of Monday midnight and has prompted authorities to lock down several major cities－including Hubei's capital, Wuhan, where the pathogen emerged in December.
To facilitate containment efforts, top health authorities have urged blood banks to mobilize donations with heightened screening procedures, even if there is no evidence that the virus can jump to others through blood.
In a circular on Feb 5, the National Health Commission and the military health department urged local authorities to make emergency plans in case of blood shortages and to step up interprovincial allocation of blood.
Blood banks are required to allow donors to make appointments in advance to avoid crowds and reduce possible infections.
The circular said collectors should check donors' body temperatures and bar people with suspicious symptoms from donating blood. People who have been to epidemic-stricken areas or have met suspected patients with the coronavirus should abstain from donating blood for at least four weeks.
In cases of emergency, local authorities should first attempt to allocate blood within the province before seeking outside help, the circular said, adding that blood collectors should use more precautions against infection.
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