Amid growing concerns about the ongoing coronavirus outbreak, the American Red Cross has urged healthy people to donate blood or platelets in order to prevent blood shortages.

President of the American Red Cross Biomedical Services, Chris Hrouda, said, “We’re asking the American people to help keep the blood supply stable during this challenging time.”

“As communities across the country prepare for this public health emergency, it’s critical that plans include a readily available blood supply for hospital patients,” he added.

Hrouda explained that low donor participation may harm the availability of blood in hospitals due to growing concerns of coronavirus infection, which is also known as COVID-19.

“The last thing a patient should worry about is whether lifesaving blood will be on the shelf when they need it most,” Hrouda said.

It has been found that there is an urgent need for blood donors with type O blood. Also, there is a special need for all platelet donors.

America’s overall blood supply has already declined because of the cold and flu season. The Red Cross said fewer donors are eligible to donate blood because the number of COVID-19 cases has been increasing.

Currently, there is no evidence that the virus can be transmitted through blood transfusion. Also, there is no evidence of any respiratory virus being transmitted through blood transfusion, according to the Red Cross.

However, the Red Cross said it has enforced new blood donation deferrals as a precautionary measure. The organization has advised people to postpone donating blood for at least 28 days after traveling to China, South Korea, Hong Kong, Macau, Iran, or Italy or South Korea.

People are also advised to postpone donating blood after receiving the diagnosis of COVID-19 or after close contact with an infected person.

The Red Cross authorities said they will continue evaluating the situation with public health officials to determine whether they need to take more precautionary measures. The organization collects blood only from people who are healthy and feeling well at the time of donation, and those meet other eligibility criteria.