Blood shortage in hospitals as coronavirus fears keep donors away

By Le Nga   February 1, 2020 | 11:31 pm PT
Blood shortage in hospitals as coronavirus fears keep donors away
People donate blood in Hanoi. Photo by VnExpress/Cong Thang.
Vietnamese hospitals are reporting blood and platelet shortages as new coronavirus keeps fearful donors away.

The National Institute of Hematology & Blood Transfusion in Hanoi received 226 units of blood in 10 days from January 23 - February 1, a fraction of the 1,500 units it needs each day.

"There is severe shortage of red blood cells and platelets, and the situation could prolong for weeks, affecting blood supply to 170 hospitals in 25 localities," said Pham Tuan Duong, deputy director of the institute.

Other localities like Ho Chi Minh City, the central cities of Hue and Da Nang and the southern Can Tho have also reported blood supply shortages.

The HCMC Blood Transfusion Hematology Hospital only had 4,000 units of blood left in stock, though it needs up to 1,000 a day.

The shortage became pronounced after the recent seven-day Tet holiday with scheduled donations being cancelled over fears of the deadly 2019-nCoV spreading at crowded places.

Doctors estimate that only a few hundreds of blood units will be donated in upcoming days, while hospitals in Hanoi and HCMC alone demand up to 3,000 units a day.

"nCoV has affected the blood donation schedule of many organizations," deputy director Duong said. "If there are no more donations, there will not be enough blood for the rising number of patients hospitalized for medical examination and treatment after Tet."

The blood transfusion institute has requested the Ministry of Health’s permission to continue urging more people to donate blood while implementing safety measures to limit the spread of nCoV.

Vietnam has so far confirmed seven cases of nCoV infection: a 73-year-old American, two Chinese nationals and four Vietnamese citizens. Three of the Vietnamese citizens were returning from Wuhan, and a female hotel receptionist caught the coronavirus infection from the two Chinese nationals presently quarantined in Saigon.

As of Sunday, the country has reported 92 suspected cases with symptoms like high fever and cough, including some who visited infected areas in China. Of these, 27 remain quarantined pending test results.

The death toll from the coronavirus outbreak in China had reached 304 by Saturday, according to China’s National Health Commission.

The virus claimed the first life outside China on Saturday, with a 44-year-old Chinese man succumbing in the Philippines.

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