(An officer calls on passersby to donate blood at a donor center in Nagasaki)
TOKYO - Fewer people are donating blood in Japan amid the outbreak of the new coronavirus, leading the Japanese Red Cross Society to voice concern over potential supply shortages.
On average, Japan needs about 13,000 blood donors a day to secure a stable supply of blood products for transfusions at nationwide medical institutions, according to the organization.
But the amount of blood donated has fallen since the government's Feb. 25 decision to request people to refrain from going outside as part of measures to contain the spread of the pneumonia-causing virus.
The volume until the end of February following the decision stood at 88 percent of the planned level, the organization said.
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About 920 blood donation events were canceled or postponed between Feb. 19 and Thursday, and the number of people coming into donor centers has remained limited ever since as they have avoided going outside unless absolutely necessary, it said.
Fearing the current situation may hinder supplies, the Red Cross is calling on people to donate blood, saying they can lower the risk of becoming infected with the virus and avoid crowds by reserving times to visit donor centers by 5 p.m. on the previous day.
Japanese swimming star Rikako Ikee, 19, who shocked fans February last year after revealing her leukemia diagnosis, also made a Twitter post on Thursday calling on more people to donate blood.
"Because of the sharp drop in blood donations, there are people who are spending their days worried," she said in her tweet.