Zimbabwe: National Blood Service to Remain Open Despite COVID-19 Scare

The National Blood Service Zimbabwe (NBSZ) will not stop collecting blood from donors for the usual emergencies despite the coronavirus scare, which has seen some companies shut down for fear of exposing employees to the disease.

NBSZ public affairs manager, Esther Massundah told NewZimbabwe.com that a decision was reached to keep the blood collector operating as there were other emergencies that required blood use.

"The need and demand for blood is always there. Besides the COVID19, there are other emergencies that require blood transfusion on a daily basis; for example, maternal cases, road traffic accidents, blood disorders, among others," she said.

However, Massundah said the organisation had scaled down the number of its employees with only key personnel reporting for duty.

Esther Massundah

Asked on the effectiveness of NBSZ testing methods considering the confusion surrounding coronavirus, Massundah said: "We have introduced an additional COVID-19 health questionnaire for blood donors targeting potentially exposed panels. Blood donors exhibiting any flue like symptoms or signs of infection are being deferred until they are in good health."

She said according to the World Health Organisation (WHO), Association of American Blood Banks (AABB) and the Africa Society for Blood Transfusion (ASBT), it had been proven scientifically that the coronavirus was not transmitted through blood transfusion, but through respiratory means.

"There have been no reports of COVID-19 being transmitted through a blood transfusion," added Massundah.

However, some individual blood donors had expressed concern over the organisation's decision to remain functioning saying it poses risks to the infection of blood by coronavirus.

"NBSZ handles human blood and it is very dangerous for them to continue inviting donors as this will expose them to COVID-19 at a time when specific details about the disease are not clearly known," said one blood donor, Tinashe Nyoni.

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