The Ministry of Health (MoH) has assured that the public can continue to donate blood, as the Blood Donation Centre has taken very stringent precautionary measures, not only in preventing the spread of COVID-19 among donors and staff, but also the transmission of the virus in donated blood.
Aside from the booking programme through the appointment system and online registration through the BloodKad application, social distancing is practiced at the Blood Donation Centre and district blood banks. Temperature checks are performed at the points of entry and face masks are given to donors.
During the blood donation process, a thorough medical assessment is done by medical and senior officers, assessing the donors’ eligibility, which include asking for donors’ travel history and if the donor has been in any close contact with known COVID-19 positive cases as well as whether donors have been quarantined before.
Donors are deferred if they have travelled to affected countries or having close contacts, for up to 28 days without any symptoms.
All donated blood is screened for blood borne infectious diseases such as Hepatitis B and C, HIV and syphilis. There is currently no evidence of transfusion transmitted infections of coronavirus and other respiratory viruses.
The COVID-19 outbreak seems to be under control in the Sultanate and the ministry has issued guidelines on social gatherings and social distancing. By practising strict safety measures and social distancing during blood donation drives, it is generally safe to conduct the event anywhere.
The Blood Donation Centre has carried out a number of blood donation drives outside the Raja Isteri Pengiran Anak Saleha (RIPAS) Hospital. Staff takes precautionary measures by wearing personal protective equipment such as face masks, disposable gowns and hand gloves.
Meanwhile, the MoH also seeks the cooperation of co-organisers to help perform temperature checks on blood donors and provide a well-ventilated venue as well as ample space to place chairs in a spaced-out manner and to stagger or limit the entry of blood donors at any one time to the venue to ensure thet blood donation drive is conducted smoothly without incident.
Calling for the public to donate blood, the MoH shared that, “At times, the Blood Donation Centre is experiencing shortages of certain blood groups but generally, they could not draw a pattern out of our demands for specific blood groups at any one time and we cannot predict patients with what blood types require blood transfusion and let alone those on medical emergencies.
“With that said, the Blood Donation Centre welcomes donors of all blood groups to ensure blood supply is available and sufficient at all times.” Some patients may require a specific blood group and phenotype, and normally the centre would reach out to donors who are known to have such specific blood type from their database.
“Hence, it is important for the public, especially those who have not donated before, to donate. This way the centre will be able to expand their pool of donors,” shared the ministry.
In Ramadhan, stringent policies on blood donations at the centre only allow donors who are fit and have had their meals before donating. This will prevent donors from experiencing reactions such as giddiness and fainting during donation.
The ministry encourages Muslim donors to make appointments for donation during the Night Campaign organised by the centre. To be eligible to donate blood, the centre has a list of criteria for which blood donors must fulfil to donate blood.
You must be healthy on the day of donation, be at least 17 years and have a body weight of at least 45kg.
If an individual is taking certain medications, he/she may still be allowed to donate blood. If uncertain, the donor can contact the Blood Donation Centre at 2242424 5745 / 6001 / 6002 or WhatsApp at 7375745 before going to the centre or any district blood banks or any blood donation drive sites.
The public can visit the centre’s social media pages @bloodbank.ripas for blood donation activities, appointment system, BloodKad application and blood donation drive schedules.