The Ministry of Health and Welfare has appealed for active blood donation, as blood supplies plunged amid growing concerns about the new coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.
“With the Lunar New Holiday overlapping with university vacations in February, blood stocks decreased. Blood donations in groups were canceled after the outbreak of the new coronavirus, and individual donations are also falling,” Vice Minister of Health and Welfare Kim Gang-lip said in a briefing at the Sejong Government Complex on Wednesday.
|Vice Health and Welfare Minister Kim Gang-lip (right) calls for blood donation during his daily briefing on new coronavirus at the Sejong Government Complex on Wednesday.|
According to the government, 15,420 people nullified a plan to participate in group blood donations in February. They include 1,150 people from schools, 1,860 from state-run institutions, 8,650 from military camps, and 3,760 from general groups.
As of Monday, the nation could supply blood for 3.6 days, a significantly low level compared to five days a year earlier. The desired blood reserves should last for five days. Korea has raised the alert level for the blood reserves from “attention” to “alert,” expecting a further drop in blood donations.
The blood reserves are based on daily average blood consumption estimates. The levels are divided into four stages -- “serious” when the reserves can supply less than one day, “alert” for less than two days, “caution” for less than three days, and “attention" for less than five days.
The Korean National Red Cross also said it was monitoring employees’ body temperatures and made sure they wear face masks to reduce the new coronavirus concerns and promote blood donations. It is also sterilizing blood donation centers and buses.
“If the worsening blood shortage persists, it could cause problems for surgeries and patient care,” Kim said. “For the lives of severe patients who need blood, we ask state-run agencies, groups, and the public to donate blood actively.”