PEI

Need for blood donors continues despite COVID-19, says Canadian Blood Services

Though it may feel like much of P.E.I. has paused, blood donation is still needed in the COVID-19 pandemic.

‘We need you as much next week or in two weeks time or three weeks time as we do today’

Cancer patients, accident victims and people who rely on blood and blood products will continue to have needs despite COVID-19, says Canadian Blood Services. (CBC)

Though it may feel like much of P.E.I. has paused, blood donation is still needed in the COVID-19 pandemic.

Peter MacDonald, head of donor relations for the Canadian Blood Services in Atlantic Canada, says their location at 85 Fitzroy St. in Charlottetown has the goal of collecting 32 units of donated blood each day.

He said they did not meet their target on Tuesday, but appointments have been up since.

"Islanders are responding to the message for sure," he said. "People are aware that as this continues and we're in a state of pandemic, cancer patients, accident victims, people who rely on blood and blood products, that need will continue."

MacDonald said donor clinics started noticing appointment cancellations across the region, for both individuals and groups, two weeks ago. It corresponded to extended school closures.

At the Fitzroy Street location, MacDonald said targets were met on Wednesday. He said Thursday was a strong day and all appointment slots were filled for Friday.

"We have a very robust cleaning and infection control protocol that we follow regularly. We've amplified that with more cleaning, more frequently," he said, adding that the clinics are practising social distancing and have added a wellness checkpoint before donors even get inside the clinic.

New wait periods added

Canadian Blood Services also circulated an email last week with its CEO outlining how blood donation processes are adapting to COVID-19.

Anyone who has been asked to be in quarantine will not be able to donate for 14 days from the date of their last suspected contact with the infection. (CBC)

Anyone who has been asked to be in quarantine will not be able to donate for 14 days from the date of their last suspected contact with the infection. Anyone with a suspected or confirmed infection in their household will be deferred for 14 days after the infected person's recovery.

Donors who have had confirmed cases of COVID-19 will also be deferred until 56 days after their full recovery from the infection. 

The email also said that a 21-day deferral for donors returning from travel outside of Canada, the continental U.S. and Europe was put in place for the Zika virus and still remains active. 

"We're in uncharted waters and this will go on for several weeks," said MacDonald. "We need you as much next week or in two weeks time or three weeks time as we do today."

Walk-in appointments are currently not allowed at the Fitzroy Street donation location to preserve social distancing, but MacDonald said appointments can be made by phone, online or through their Give Blood app. 

In a press briefing on Friday, Dr. Heather Morrison, P.E.I.'s chief public health officer, also encouraged Islanders to give blood if they are not in self-isolation.

"Our national supply of blood products is very important, especially in a time where current events may impact our inventory in the country, and giving blood can save lives," she said.

COVID-19: What you need to know

What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

Common symptoms include:

  • Fever.
  • Cough.
  • Tiredness.

But more serious symptoms can develop, including difficulty breathing and pneumonia, which can lead to death.

What should I do if I feel sick?

Isolate yourself and call your local public health authority. Do not visit an emergency room or urgent care centre to get tested.

How can I protect myself?

  • Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
  • Be aware of evolving travel advisories to different regions.

More detailed information on the outbreak is available on the federal government's website.

More COVID-19 stories from CBC P.E.I.

With files from Preston Mulligan and Island Morning

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