Donations of blood have decreased significantly recently, Chief Medical Officer Dr Roshan Parasram has said.
Measures are being put in place to ensure there is an adequate supply.
Speaking at Monday’s media conference, the CMO said it was expected that there would be a decrease in the number of people donating.
He said the registrar in charge of the blood bank had been in contact with all the donation centres and asked her to reach out to volunteers. He said she has aslso contacted individual foundations which have large numbers of volunteers, in particular the UWI Blood Donor Foundation, which had volunteers who would be able to come out, give blood and go back home. He said the ministry was working on making sure there would be an adequate supply of blood as the situation progresses.
Parasram said the policies and procedures normally carried out to screen blood donors reamained in place, while additional questions had been added to the regular questionnaire to ensure there was a low risk of that blood being contaminated at any point. He said the questions were similar to those used for covid19 screening, including history, travel history, and contact with people who are suspected of or confirmed as having covid19. He said tests would also be done as needed for pre-existing conditions including HIV.
On Friday, a nurse at the Eric Williams Medical Sciences Centre blood bank said normally there would be 40 people coming in to donate daily, but the numbers have decreased to 20 or fewer.
She said it was not because any restrictions had been put in place, but people had just stopped coming. In terms of coronavirus-specific precautions, she explained, would-be donors would be stopped if they had symptoms such as coughing, sneezing or a runny nose. Once they were symptom-free and had not travelled recently, they were free to give blood.
These questions, she added, were normally part of the questionnaire for people who were donating blood.
She said she would definitely encourage people to come out and give blood at all the blood banks.