The continuance and safety of blood donation remain essential even in exceptional circumstances. The Blood Service has made changes to its precautions related to the COVID-19 epidemic. As of 1 March, all blood donors across Finland will be required to wear a surgical mask provided by the Blood Service while at the donation site irrespective of the development of the epidemic in their area. The Blood Service staff also use surgical masks.
“By issuing a stricter mask requirement we want to ensure that attending our donation sites is safe, regardless of the negative development of the epidemiological situation,” says Satu Pastila, Director of Blood Donation Operations for the Blood Service.
In addition, the advance booking of appointments and the arrangement of donation spaces in ways that allow for sufficient distance between donation chairs ensure that safety distances can be maintained. The number of people allowed in the donation area at once has also been restricted, and at present, only donors are allowed indoors.
All donors are instructed to wash or disinfect their hands as they arrive, before having a snack provided by the Blood Service and as they leave the donation site. Upon arrival, donors are asked to confirm that they have no common cold symptoms. During the pandemic, symptomatic hay fever also prevents blood donation.
Blood donors are needed, even during the pandemic
Because of the pandemic, people are limiting their movements and avoiding contacts, which is important. However, this poses a challenge for blood donation services. In order to provide patients with all the necessary blood products, blood donors are needed every day. Whenever more blood donors are needed, the Blood Service uses means such as personal invitations and social media to activate donors.
“Despite the new, tighter restrictions, attending our donation sites continues to be safe, and the patient’s need for blood has remained at the normal level. Approximately 800 donors are needed every day. If you feel well, donating blood is a safe and easy way to help,” says Pastila.