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IBTS taking ‘precautionary approach’ on deferrals amid Covid-19

The Irish Blood Transfusion Service (IBTS) is taking “a precautionary approach” by deferring some donors amid the Covid-19 international public health emergency.

The IBTS has introduced a number of procedures to date, including deferring donors for a minimum period of 28 days if they have travelled to: Italy, Iran, China, Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Thailand, Taiwan, Macao, Japan or South Korea

The Transfusion Service is also currently deferring donors for a minimum period of 28 days if they have come into contact with a person with suspected or confirmed Covid-19 infection.

“Covid-19 has not been shown to be transfusion transmitted and is unlikely to be so, as it is primarily an infection of the respiratory tract,” said a spokesperson.  

“However a precautionary approach has been taken by the IBTS to defer donors that have travelled to the counties listed [above].”

Donors will also be deferred if they have any of the following symptoms; fever, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing

Posters have been placed at the entrance to all clinics to alert donors not to enter if they have travelled to an affected area, been in contact with persons with the virus, or are displaying any of the symptoms already listed, according to the IBTS.

Hand gel stations have been placed in all clinic areas, while staff and donors are encouraged to practice good hand hygiene.

“All staff will emphasise to donors the importance of reporting to the IBTS any post-donation illness as soon as it occurs.

“Staff are updated on a regular basis on the advice of the HSE/HPSC as regards the risks of acquiring Covid-19 and the measures that would have to be taken were a staff member to become unwell.

“The blood supply currently is good and the IBTS is able to meet requirements from hospitals.  The IBTS is monitoring the evolving situation and will deal with any change to the number of cases in line with public health advice.”

The IBTS has established a coronavirus working group that meets as a minimum on a weekly basis to discuss and manage the organisation’s response to Covid-19. 

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