In Haryana’s Nuh district, which has recorded the highest number of coronavirus cases in the state so far, the impact of the infection and the lockdown has had an unexpected casualty — the district blood bank.
According to officials, reserves of certain blood types have dried up due to a fall in blood donations over the last month. Officials said the situation is so dire that the health department has been looking to other districts to source the blood units required.
“Prior to the lockdown, we used to organise camps and collect blood largely through these. However, we have been unable to organise any over the last month due to the requirement of social distancing. As a result, the units in the blood bank have started to fall short,” said Bijender Sorot, Joint Secretary of the Indian Red Cross Society’s Nuh District Branch.
The Deputy Chief Medical Officer (CMO) of Nuh, Lokveer Singh, reiterated this point, stating that the blood units available for use in the bank “have reduced by 15 to 20 per cent”.
“The issue is about specific blood groups. Some blood groups are falling short, such as B+. This is the most common blood group so it tends to be used more. Other like O+ are less common so they are needed less frequently as well,” said Singh.
“Our coordination with other districts like Palwal, Faridabad, Gurgaon, Rewari, and the Government Medical College in Nalhar, is good. As a result, we have been able to arrange units from there if we do not have them here. However, it is better to have the units available in our district itself,” he said.
In the hope of resolving the situation, the Nuh district administration and health department have started appealing to people to volunteer for blood donation, and have also begun accepting donations from among their own staff.
On Monday, for example, “five to seven units” were collected by the health department from among its own doctors. Officials are planning to organise a blood donation camp at the Red Cross Office Tuesday, and another in Tauru on Wednesday.
“I have appealed to people via social media and on WhatsApp groups to volunteer for donation, and have already received around 20 to 25 responses. Even the personnel at the Women’s Police Station have offered to donate blood, and the Deputy Commissioner has also said he intends to do the same,” said Sorot.
“We are keeping the norms of social distancing in mind while organising our camps, by taking measures such as keeping proper distance between the beds,” he said.
Officials are also concerned they are short on time. With Ramzan beginning later this week, the window to collect samples in the Muslim-dominated district is very small, they say.
“Once Ramzan begins, we cannot collect samples from people since they will be fasting, so we have to do what we can in the next two days,” said the Deputy CMO.
Nuh has so far recorded 57 cases of coronavirus – the highest in Haryana. Officials from the health department, however, said that blood units have, until now, not been required for people who have tested positive for the infection in the district.
“We need to have these in place for the people who come in with non-COVID-19 related problems, such as those who need operations or during deliveries,” said Singh.
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