TORONTO -- Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is encouraging Canadians to keep donating blood during the widening COVID-19 pandemic.

During an update he provided outside of his home in Ottawa on Thursday, Trudeau said donating blood is one way people can help others in need.

“Even if you don’t work in a hospital you can still keep people healthy, for example, we still need blood donors. If you’re able, consider going in and donating,” he said.

The prime minister then directed interested donors to book an appointment online at or to call Canadian Blood Services at 1-888-236-6283.

PM Trudeau’s message to the public echoed a similar call for donations put out by Canadian Blood Services earlier in the week.

The non-profit charity, which is responsible for the national blood system outside of Quebec, has warned of a “worrying” rise in appointment cancellations in recent days. The organization has repeatedly stressed the continual need for blood, stem cells, plasma, and organ and tissue donors.

“Our blood products unfortunately have very short shelf lives and if we’re not having donors come in to our collection centres on a regular and routine basis, we’re always very close to the possibility that we’ll run into shortages,” Dr. Isra Levy, the vice president of medical affairs and innovation at Canadian Blood Services, told CTV News Channel on Thursday.

While Levy said the charity’s inventory of blood is currently where it’s supposed to be, he said that could change should people stop donating.

“People should remember, people who already donate blood and also those who might be interested in beginning to donate blood, we are always on the edge of a short supply,” he said.

Following Canadian Blood Service’s public plea earlier in the week, Levy said that appointments have “picked up again” and they need to be sustained.

Levy also took the opportunity to reassure people that it’s still safe to donate blood during the pandemic. He said Canadian Blood Services is pre-screening donors about their symptoms and travel history before they’re allowed to enter one of their donation centres.

“What we really want to remind people is that blood is an essential service and it’s a good reason to come out and donate blood and our centres are safe,” he said.

Levy said their workers practice physical distancing whenever possible and they’re continuing to take infection control measures at all of their facilities. He also wanted to remind people that the act of donating blood is safe.

“There is no evidence that people, if they do have COVID-19, would put other people at risk through blood transfusion,” he said. “Blood transfusions are safe. There’s not been a coronavirus of any time that has been known to cause a transmission of disease.”