Frequently asked questions
Last updated: July 18, 2020
- Blood donation during the pandemic
- Wearing a mask: instructions and details
- Blood donation eligibility criteria during the pandemic
- Maintaining the blood collection activities during the pandemic
- General information about COVID-19
Blood donation during the pandemic
The coronavirus pandemic that we are going through is unprecedented, and Héma-Québec is doing its part to deal with it. However, it requires us to adapt and adjust our actions on a daily basis. Cohesiveness and cooperation among all donors, volunteers and members of Héma-Québec’s large team are essential. Our ability to run our operations effectively depends on it.
To date, the following additional measures have been implemented:
- Controlled access to collection sites:
- Every donor and volunteer are asked additional questions beforehand:
- Are you feeling well today?
- Do you have a fever?
- Do you have a cough?
- Have you been in contact with a person infected with COVID-19 in the last 14 days?
- In the last 14 days, have you been outside Canada?
- Have you lost your sense of smell and taste in the past 14 days?
- Donors and volunteers have their temperature taken before they enter the site.
- Every donor and volunteer are asked additional questions beforehand:
- Disinfection of the touch screens for the blood donation questionnaire and of the collection beds.
- The logistics of the drives has been reviewed to comply with the minimum two-metre distancing as much as possible. See the question above regarding the distancing measures.
- Addition of acrylic panels at all collection sites.
- Wearing a surgical mask, issued by Héma-Québec, is mandatory for all blood donors during their entire time at the collection site. See the section about wearing masks for more details.
Please note that the actions related to protecting our staff who are in contact with the public are consistent with the measures of the health and social services network. Héma-Québec therefore applies the general recommendations of the community.
Héma-Québec is constantly reviewing collection logistics in order to comply as much as possible with the minimum distance of two metres, including:
- Two meters between chairs in the collection site waiting area.
- Where the layout permits, a distance of two meters between the collection beds.
However, Héma-Québec must be able to continue its activities without jeopardizing the blood supply.
In addition, wearing a mask is mandatory for donors.
During this time of pandemic, an escort must also donate blood. Therefore, you cannot be accompanied to a site with a child or a person who is not donating blood.
No. A collection site is not the place to get tested for COVID-19, HIV or hepatitis B and C.
If you think you may be at risk, we ask that you not go to a collection site for the safety of other donors and Héma-Québec staff and volunteers.
Héma-Québec applies strict measures—at all times, not just during a pandemic—to ensure the safety of donors and of the blood.
Blood donation candidates must undergo a rigorous selection process, and only healthy people are eligible to give blood. Moreover, Héma-Québec has always asked people who have a fever or who feel unwell to not come to clinic locations.
There is also no risk of contracting an illness by giving blood, because all of the materials used for collecting blood are new, sterile, sealed and used only once.
The risk level for COVID-19 remains low for transfusions. At this time, there is no evidence that the virus can be transmitted by transfusion. The transmission by transfusion of a respiratory virus—including COVID-19—has never been documented.
No. Since the transfusion transmission of coronavirus—including COVID-19—has never been shown, Héma-Québec does not test blood donations for COVID-19.
Wearing a mask: instructions and details
Since Saturday, July 18, the Quebec government has made it mandatory to wear a mask in all indoor public spaces. The places where blood drives are held and fixed centres are considered to be indoor public spaces. Wearing a mask is therefore mandatory for everyone (employees, volunteers and donors) at all times.
Yes, each donor will be issued a mask by Héma-Québec and will be required to wear it during their entire time at the collection site.
No. Donors must wear the mask provided by Héma-Québec in order to access the collection site.
Masks have proven effective in preventing respiratory infections. That is not necessarily true with home-made face coverings: since those products have not been certified, it cannot be stated that they are just as effective as a surgical mask. Masks are meant to protect the people around those who wear them. Therefore, Héma-Québec favours wearing a mask whose performance is confirmed in order to ensure the safety of the donors, volunteers and employees at blood drives.
The wearing of a mask by donors during their entire time at a collection changes the consuming of water and snacks, before and after donating.
Héma-Québec reiterates the importance of good hydration before donating blood and recommends that donors drink water and eat a salty snack before coming to the collection site. Normally, a bottle of water and a salty snack are provided to every person who comes to donate blood. However, those measures are suspended in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic to prevent donors from handling their masks and bringing their hands to their faces while they are at the collection site. A snack after the donation will be given, but will have to be eaten outside the collection site.
Our team sincerely apologizes for this inconvenience and thanks donors for their understanding during this exceptional period
Blood donation eligibility criteria during the pandemic
Anyone who has or has had COVID-19 must wait 14 days after their recovery date before they can give blood.
Anyone who has been in contact with a person who is or has been infected with or suspected of being infected with COVID-19 must wait 14 days starting from the date of that person’s recovery before he/she can donate. If the tests show the absence of COVID-19, those who have been in contact with that person can donate right away.
Yes. If the tests are negative for COVID-19, that person is eligible to donate blood.
Anyone who has travelled outside of Canada must comply with the 14-day quarantine order issued by the Québec government before they can give blood.
The usual criteria related to travelling to certain regions abroad continue to apply.
Yes, people aged 70 or older can again join the ranks of blood donors and volunteers. The public health authorities have given Héma-Québec the green light to allow it to benefit from the contribution of this essential group at collection sites.
One thousand blood donations are needed every day to meet the needs of people who need blood transfusions. Therefore, remains essential for Héma-Québec to fulfil its critical mission of collecting blood donations for the Québec’s population.
To allow Héma-Québec to collect the 1,000 daily donations needed for continuing its mission, even during the pandemic, while continuing to ensure the safety of donors and recipients, some of the criteria have been temporarily changed:
The interval between whole blood donations is currently 56 days for a woman and 28 days for a man.
Women and men who donate blood at a frequency of 56 days and 28 days respectively are more at risk of a drop in their iron stores. Donors, however, can easily remedy that by taking iron supplements.
The interval between platelet donations by apheresis is currently 10 days.
Donors’ platelet levels return to normal within a few days.
The ban on donating after returning from a trip less than 6 months to a malaria-prone region is now 6 months.
The vast majority of malaria cases after a trip appear within six months of the traveller’s return.
Suspension of physical examinations and blood-pressure taking in order to minimize close contact.
Maintaining the blood collection activities during the pandemic
Numerous blood donor clinics take place every day in various locations in Québec. One thousand blood donations are required every day in Québec, both in normal and during a pandemic.
Yes, all GLOBULE blood donation centres and PLASMAVIE plasma donation centres are operating normally. Numerous blood drives take place every day in various locations in Québec.
Under the exceptional circumstances caused by COVID-19, Héma-Québec must continuously adapt its supply strategy to ensure the safety of donors, volunteers and employees and to comply with government directives. As additional logistical challenges arise with respect to regional collections, we may come less frequently in the coming weeks.
The government’s ban on indoor and outdoor gatherings includes exceptions, some of which apply to Héma-Québec.
One thousand blood donations are needed every day to meet the needs of people who need blood transfusions. It remains essential that Héma-Québec carry out it’s critical mission of collecting blood donations for the people of Quebec.
No suspension of blood donation activities is covered by the government’s Order in Council:
- Gatherings are required for blood donation activities.
- Where possible, a minimum distance of two meters shall be kept between people.
- It is important to remember that blood clinics are attended only by healthy donors.
General information about COVID-19
It is a family of viruses that generally cause respiratory illnesses. The symptoms are usually mild to moderate, and mainly cause an acute respiratory infection:
- runny nose
- sore throat
- generally feeling unwell
In rare cases, difficulty breathing and pulmonary diseased have also been described. The coronavirus (SRAS-CoV-2) associated with the disease COVID-19 has been isolated in respiratory tract fluids. However, a non-infectious virus has been detected in serum and blood collection samples.
The virus has been completely sequenced, and a screening test is available in Quebec.
Recognized hygiene measures, such as hand washing and avoiding contact with infected people, remain the best way to prevent infection.