28-day wait imposed on blood donors upon return from Covid-19 hot spots

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By Robert Tapfumaneyi

POTENTIAL blood donors returning from countries affected by coronavirus will now have to wait for 28 days before they could be allowed to take part in the process, the National Blood Services Zimbabwe (NBSZ) has said.

This shall apply to both regular and first-time blood donors.

“…As part of global services, what we know about corona is, it has 14 days incubation period. That is what is known scientifically,” said George Mavunganidze (pictured below), NBSZ Laboratory manager.

He was speaking to at the organisation’s Harare offices.

“So, what we have done as blood services is to take precautionary measures if someone has been to the hotspots of such countries where there is epidemic cases of Corona virus.

“If you are a blood donor, it becomes an index question, have you been to those countries where there are cases of corona? If yes and you want to give blood, what blood services have done is double the incubation period to 28 days.

“Therefore, we will have to defer you for 28 days before you give blood because by that time, we also know that the coronavirus cannot survive under harsh conditions and it cannot then start to manifest after those 28 days.”

Apart from coronavirus, Mavunganidze said all blood is screened for infectious agents such as HIV, Hepatitis B and C and Syphilis.

“All processes, procedures and results are kept strictly confidential. If any variances are detected and if necessary, counselling and referral is done,” he said.

He also spoke said the ‘window period’ referring to the time one has contracted an infectious agent such as HIV, Hepatitis B and C and Syphilis and the time it takes for the infection to multiply to a level when screening tests are sufficiently sensitive to detect the presence of the infection.

“This window period varies in accordance with the amount of the agent virus entering the blood stream and the different infectious agent’s ability to replicate sufficiently quickly to be detected,” he said.

“NBSZ use reagents that are combination of high sensitivity tests which detect very lowest levels of infection and high specificity tests which only detect agent do not give false positive results.”