A blood donor has her blood sample taken at a centre on Lương Ngọc Quyến Street, Hà Nội. — VNA/VNS Photo Thanh Tùng
HÀ NỘI — Amid the outbreak of the deadly novel coronavirus, now officially named COVID-19, calls for blood donation have been heard nationwide as hospitals face severe blood shortages.
While demand for blood soars after Tết (Lunar New Year) holiday, fears of COVID-19 infection have discouraged people from participating in blood drives. Many university students, a major proportion of blood donors, have not yet returned to cities during the prolonged school closure, worsening the situation.
“This year’s new year holidays were close to each other, therefore, most of centres could not ensure their blood reserves. We have to wait until Red Spring Festival – the country’s biggest blood donation event – tentatively taking place on February 13 to have them restocked,” Ngô Mạnh Quân, deputy director of the National Blood Centre, told Tuổi trẻ (Youth) newspaper.
On Tuesday, for the first time, the Việt Nam General Federation of Labour made a plea for blood donors in hopes of receiving 500,000 units of blood in February and March.
“The Việt Nam General Federation of Labour has asked each labour union to host a voluntary blood donation day in their localities to encourage at least 20 per cent of workers to donate blood,” said the federation’s deputy head Ngọ Duy Hiểu.
According to Quân, the National Institute of Hematology and Blood Transfusion saw some 1,000 people donating blood over the last weekend. The institute’s drives also welcomed 100 more donors thanks to viral calls on Facebook.
“Blood donation centres in HCM City, Đà Nẵng, Cần Thơ and Huế have also witnessed an increasing number of blood donors. However, as the development of COVID-19 is difficult to foresee, we are taking efforts to encourage more people to help,” said Quân.
Nguyễn Xuân Việt, director of Cần Thơ City Hospital of Hematology and Blood Transfusion, said the critical blood shortage in local medical facilities had improved thanks to hundreds of donors each day, mostly medical staff, patients’ relatives and public servants.
Earlier last week, the hospital’s blood bank ran out and was only able to serve 40 per cent of the hospital’s demand, with blood type O on high alert.
Since February 7 when a plea for blood donation was made, it has collected nearly 1,600 units of blood, sufficient for supply in emergency cases.
In HCM City, workers in the High-tech Park launched a weekend voluntary blood donation event in collaboration with District 9 Red Cross.
“Amid the disease, we cannot launch a massive campaign. The event will take place at the area’s cultural hall with participants asked to properly wear face masks,” said Nguyễn Minh Đức from the High-tech Park's Labour Union.
Volunteers of Việt Nam Red Cross instruct blood donors to wash hands. — VNA/VNS Photo Thanh Vũ
At blood donation spots across Việt Nam, antiseptic solution is provided for donors.
Besides a regular information sheet, they also have to fill in separate questionnaires on their health status related to COVID-19 syndromes.
“We also had body temperatures measured and were asked to contact the National Institute of Hematology and Blood Transfusion immediately if we had a fever, cough or shortness of breath within 14 days of the donation,” Nguyễn Thanh Vân, a blood donor told Việt Nam News at a blood centre at 26 Lương Ngọc Quyến Street, Hà Nội. — VNS