Blood donations on hold after COVID-19 cases at Ottawa facility –

People will have to wait to donate blood in eastern Ontario after five people at an Ottawa processing facility tested positive for COVID-19, Canadian Blood Services announced Friday.

The Concourse Gate facility in Nepean, where the organization processes blood donations before distributing them to hospitals, was temporarily closed this week “due to a small cluster of COVID-19 infections,” according to a news release.

It said five staff members and contractors at the facility tested positive. The facility is not accessible to donors or the public, the organization said.

Canadian Blood Services is working closely with Ottawa Public Health to notify those who may need testing, and says it has deep-cleaned the site.

“We made the decision to close out of an abundance of caution,” said Dr. Graham Sher, CEO of Canadian Blood Services, in the news release. “We plan for disruptions like these and benefit from a national network that enables the rest of the country to come to the aid of an impacted region or province.”

Disruption won’t affect patients

The charitable organization said it began notifying donors with appointments on Friday to rebook after Feb. 14, when the facility is expected to reopen. 

It said the disruption at the Ottawa facility won’t affect the supply of blood to patients. 

The facility also handles stem cells for transplant. Canadian Blood Services said those operations will continue only for patients who are in the middle of their treatment, or whose lives depend on it. Edmonton’s stem cell operations site will act as a backup for now, the organization said. 

“We are grateful to blood donors for their ongoing support during these unprecedented times and we look forward to welcoming them back,” said Sher.