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No. of blood donors falls 11% amid COVID-19 outbreak

Employees of the Suwon Urban Development Corporation participate in the blood donation rally last month as South Korea struggles from blood supply shortage amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (Yonhap)
Employees of the Suwon Urban Development Corporation participate in the blood donation rally last month as South Korea struggles from blood supply shortage amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (Yonhap)

The number of blood donors sank almost 11 percent during the first five months of 2020 amid the coronavirus pandemic, posing a threat to the country’s blood supply going forward, as the virus spread shows no sign of abating.

According to data from the Korean Red Cross provided to Rep. Jeon Bon-min of the main opposition United Future Party, around 966,900 people gave blood from January to May this year, down 10.9 percent from 1.08 million in the same period a year earlier.

The country’s blood plasma self-sufficiency rate stood at 54.6 percent in the first quarter, compared to 62.6 percent reached for all of 2019.

Blood donations have become more difficult to attract as the country has been battling the novel coronavirus for the past six months, encouraging citizens to keep social distance and avoid unnecessary contact. The country relies on donations from students and soldiers for around one-third of its blood supply.

According to the data, South Korea’s blood reserves were at an “optimal” or better level for just 23 days in the five months. The Korean Red Cross considers an optimal reserve as having five days’ worth of blood supply. For the rest of days, the reserve level was below optimal.

By Ko Jun-tae (ko.juntae@heraldcorp.com)
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