Sat, Feb 06, 2016 - Page 5 News List

Travelers to Zika regions must wait to donate blood

Staff writer, with CNA

People who have traveled to any of the 30 countries and territories listed by the government as having Zika virus outbreaks are not eligible to donate blood until 28 days after they have left an affected area, the Taiwan Blood Services Foundation said, with the measure going into effect yesterday.

The Centers for Disease Control on Wednesday issued a travel alert for 30 countries and territories, mostly in Central and South America and the Caribbean, the second-highest advisory in its three-tier system.

The 26 countries and territories in the Americas include Mexico, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama, and the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Jamaica, Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands in the Caribbean.

Other countries in the Americas included in the list are Brazil, Bolivia, Columbia, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guyana, Suriname and Venezuela.

The remaining four areas on the list are Cape Verde in western Africa and American Samoa, Samoa and Tonga in the Pacific.

Foundation director Lin Min-chang (林敏昌) said many countries and areas have a similar observation period, such as 21 days in Canada and 28 days in Hong Kong.

Since 19 out of the 30 countries and territories are also listed as malaria-affected, with travelers to those areas barred from blood donations for a full year, and because there are fewer Taiwanese traveling to Central and South America, the measure will probably not have a significant effect on the blood bank, Lin said.

However, as the blood bank only has a six-day supply for transfusions, Lin said he hoped that more people would donate blood.

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