Canadian Blood Services is temporarily postponing blood collection in Ottawa, Kingston and across eastern Ontario due to a "small cluster" of COVID-19 infections at the Ottawa facility where blood donations are processed.

In a statement, the agency says blood donation events are cancelled to accommodate a controlled shut down of the Concourse Gate Facility, where five cases of COVID-19 involving employees and contractors have been confirmed.

Canadian Blood Services says the Concourse Gate facility is not accessible to the public or donors.

“Our decision to temporarily close our Concourse Gate site and postpone collection events was steered by our commitment to, above all else, safeguard employees, our operations and our essential products and services for the patients who rely on us," said Dr. Graham Sher, CEO of Canadian Blood Services. 

Donors began receiving phone calls on Friday to postpone their appointment, and asked to rebook an appointment after Feb. 14.

Canadian Blood Services is working with Ottawa Public Health following the confirmation of five cases of COVID-19 at the facility where donations are processed before distribution to the hospital.

"Fresh blood processing and distribution at the Concourse Gate facility is shut down and will be reopened upon further assessment and in accordance with public health guidance," said Canadian Blood Services in a statement.

"The facility also handles stem cells used for patient transplants. Stem cell operations at the site will continue only to meet the needs of a small number of patients who are in the middle of their treatment and whose lives depend on specific products from this site. Further support will come from our Edmonton stem cell operations site. The two sites are designated backups for one another."

Canadian Blood Services says the changes to collection events does not affect its ability to provide safe and secure supplies of blood productions for patients.

The Canadian Blood Services anticipates the Concourse Gate production and distribution facility will reopen after Feb. 14.