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Red Cross urges continued blood donations

A Red Cross blood bank donation van is seen in Sydney, Friday, Dec. 5, 2008. The Australian Medical Association (AMA) warns a NSW government move to charge private hospitals for supplying blood could mean higher costs for private patients and even fewer donors. (AAP Image/Paul Miller) NO ARCHIVING

A Red Cross blood bank donation van sign (AAP Image/Paul Miller) 

Australians are being urged to continue donating blood amid the coronavirus emergency, with the Red Cross Lifeblood group saying there is no evidence COVID-19 can be transmitted by blood transfusion.

Lifeblood says 14,000 new and existing donors are needed in the coming weeks to bolster supplies ahead of the Easter period and the annual cold and flu season.

Chief executive Shelly Park says at the start of 2020 they saw a "phenomenal" response from donors following the nation's bushfire emergency.

"However, those generous donors now have to wait 12 weeks before they are able to donate again," she said in a statement on Tuesday.

Lifeblood needs to collect around 29,000 blood and plasma donations every week across Australia.

Ms Park said as well as fewer people able to donate over the coming weeks, last minute cancellations were also putting a dent in blood stocks "at a time when donors are in urgent need".

"As we all know, there is no substitute for blood. It is a critical resource, and right now, we need more people booking appointments to donate."

Ms Park reassured the community that "there is no evidence coronavirus is transmittable by blood transfusion".

"The organisation has robust processes in place to ensure the safety of the blood supply and our donors, and we don't allow people who are unwell to donate blood," she said.

"Our donor centres are safe places to visit and we will take all necessary steps to ensure that stays the case."

© AAP 2020