THE Nationals Member for Eastern Victoria Region, Melina Bath, is encouraging Gippslanders to give blood during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Ms Bath said blood donations have been declared an essential service throughout Australia during the pandemic.

“Despite the pandemic, it is important we continue to support the Australian Red Cross and meet the demand for blood as donations are needed every single day by Australian patients.

“The onset of flu season and the emergence of coronavirus (COVID-19) has the potential to place Australia’s blood supplies under pressure as people adhere to social distancing and stay at home laws.

“It is important for the community to understand the government’s stay at home directive does not apply to making a blood donation.

“Plenty of people rolled up their sleeves during the recent bushfire crisis that impacted East Gippsland, and new and existing Gippsland donors are now needed to do the same.”

Ms Bath said Red Cross Donor Centres are safe places to visit during the pandemic.

“The nursing staff are well trained, highly skilled and follow robust procedures to protect everyone’s health and wellbeing,” said Ms Bath.

“The simple rule to follow is, if you are unwell, simply phone your donor centre, cancel the appointment and do not attend in person. The nursing staff will advise you.”

Across Australia there are approximately half a million blood donors, but millions more may be eligible to donate.

Ms Bath said one donation of blood can save up to three lives.

It is simple and pain free, and takes under one hour of your time, the Nationals MP said.

“If you are a donor and haven’t made an appointment you can assist by booking one over the coming weeks.

“The Red Cross Blood Donation services always welcome new donors and now is a great time to start donating.

“Just as I have, I encourage Gippslanders to help maintain Australia’s blood supplies for the upcoming months by making their appointment now.”