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Thai blood donations plummet over coronavirus infection fears

13 Jan 2021 / 19:02 H.

    By Panarat Thepgumpanat and Chayut Setboonsarng

    BANGKOK, Jan 13 (Reuters) - Thailand's Red Cross Society appealed for people to give blood on Wednesday as donations hit a record low, with volumes collected halved amid public concern about getting infected with the coronavirus.

    Thailand is fighting a second wave of infections after an outbreak found a month ago among migrant workers, which led to cases more than doubling to 10,991 and reaching more than half of the country's provinces.

    The government has urged people to stay home until the outbreak is contained, while universities and companies that normally host blood drives have put donation programmes on hold.

    "This is most intense crisis ever," said Piyanun Kumkrong, assistant director for donor recruitment at the National Blood Centre.

    "Usually we get 2,200 units per day," she told Reuters, adding that the centre had received just 394 units on Wednesday because donors were concerned about being infected with COVID-19.

    On average, donations have been down by 700-900 units.

    If the trend continues, hospitals will have to postpone surgeries outside of emergencies, Piyanun said.

    The centre in a statement said it did not have enough plasma for 340 hospitals in Thailand. It is appealing on social media for people to come forward and donate blood.

    "Plasma donations are needed urgently for surgery and paediatric patients with blood diseases such as anaemia, thalassemia, and haemophilia," the centre said. (Reporting by Panarat Thepgumpanat and Chayut Setboonsarng; Editing by Martin Petty)

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