Thousands of blood donations needed by Easter

Extra precautions have been put in place to allow people to donate life-saving blood supplies during the COVID-19 pandemic.

About 900 donors are cancelling appointments each day, up from 800 earlier this month.

The Australian Red Cross Lifeblood estimates about 7000 people will need to donate blood before Easter to maintain a stable supply.

The blood and plasma products are needed to support cancer patients, mothers with birth complications, people with immune deficiencies or blood diseases, people who need surgery or have suffered trauma.

Strong blood stocks are also needed in the event of a spike in coronavirus cases, which would reduce the number of people eligible to donate.

Health authorities have ruled out the possibility that coronavirus can be transferred by blood transfusion.

A Red Cross Lifeblood spokeswoman said blood donation centres remained open with strict social distancing measures in place.

"We are asking existing blood donors to keep their appointments if fit and well and invite new donors to come forward to help us meet the needs of Australian patients over the coming weeks and months," she said.

"Our donor centres are safe places to visit and we are taking all necessary steps to ensure that stays the case."

Extra measures, in addition to the standard strict sanitation protocols, have been introduced to ensure the safety of staff and donors.

These include increased disinfection of frequently used items, providing additional hand sanitiser for donors, restriction of non-donating visitors and providing public health information.

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"We are also implementing social distancing in our centres wherever possible. Whenever we can, we'll make sure donors are at least 1.5 metres away from all other donors. In some centres, we've rearranged the furniture to make this possible," a spokeswoman said.

Ballarat resident Tanaya Treadwell said she appreciated the extra safety measures when she made her quarterly blood donation last Saturday.

"The experience was good, there was just a lot of small changes they made. For instance, they weren't giving out the squeezy balls unless it was absolutely necessary," she said.

A 28-day postponement is in place for any donors who have returned from overseas or who have been in contact with a confirmed case of coronavirus.

Anyone who has been diagnosed with coronavirus can not donate for three months after their recovery.

"In the past, people with a mild runny nose with no fever have been allowed to donate plasma. We have changed this and anyone with minor cold-like symptoms will be deferred until they are recovered," the spokeswoman said.

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This story Thousands of blood donations needed by Easter first appeared on The Canberra Times.