The South African National Blood Service (SANBS) is appealing to South Africans to continue donating blood during the 21-day nationwide lockdown to prevent a blood shortage.

Donating blood is essential to ensure the country’s blood stocks do not run critically low and put people in need at risk. To ensure a safe and sufficient blood supply in the health care system, SANBS aims to collect 3 000 units of blood per day.

Speaking to ENCA, SANBS Chief Marketing Officer Silungile Mlambo has expressed concern over the decline of blood donations since the lockdown announcement.

Travelling to donate blood is considered essential travel, and is thus allowed during the lockdown. As a result, all donor centres will remain open with extended operating hours to accommodate social distancing measures. Donor centres will operate from 8am-7pm on weekdays and 8am to 2pm on weekends.

“Shopping mall donor centres remain accessible, 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,” SANBS writes in a statement.

SANBS has also put safety measures in place to ensure this activity remains safe for all participating.

“The SANBS has taken precautionary measures to ensure that the people who utilise our facilities are protected. We are assessing donors at all entry point to our facilities and mobile sites. We have also equipped all sites with additional antiseptic sprays and alcohol-based wipes.

Our trained healthcare practitioners operating in the field have been equipped with the necessary information to identify symptoms that may indicate COVID-19 infection, and should a donor not be feeling well, or exhibit any flu-like symptoms or signs of infection, they will not be permitted access to our facilities,” said Dr Jackie Thomson, SANBS Medical Director.

As a precautionary measure, a 21 day donor deferral period is in place for people who have travelled to affected countries outside of South Africa. People with confirmed cases of coronavirus infection will be deferred for 28 days from the date of complete clearance of symptoms, and 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.

To find your closest donation centre, click HERE.

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