Fears over the coronavirus impacting supply chains have continued to drive panic buying of food, water, toilet paper and surgical masks across numerous major countries today.
More than 50 countries now have confirmed coronavirus cases, with the worst hit countries outside of China being Iran and Italy. BBC News reports that at least 210 people in Iran had died from the virus, way higher than official government figures.
This has prompted panic buying as customers desperately stock up on supplies in anticipation of potential shortages.
Photos out of northern California show shelves being emptied of respirators and bottled water.
These photos are from yesterday and the day before. Respirators and cheaper water = empty shelves. Northern California. pic.twitter.com/2LpfMON3VL
— TrueBlue (@TrueBlueAmeric3) February 27, 2020
Face masks are also completely sold out in numerous stores.
— danthedecentralist (@decentralistdan) February 26, 2020
— Bryan Tollerene (@TllrnInvmntMgmt) February 28, 2020
Home Depot was cleared out. 3M must be super upset about how things are going. pic.twitter.com/oVHZDbK2pa
— j_st_n (@unquity) February 28, 2020
Hand sanitizer, thermometers and oat milk are also in hot demand as supplies are exhausted.
Cough medicine and other flu drugs are also running low.
Continued…. Empty shelves where masks and cough/ flu medicines and thermometers in baby sections. Vaporub, you nsme it, gone. pic.twitter.com/VPBzr2Aq8Q
— S. (@vixengolden) February 28, 2020
Another photo from a Target in St. Paul MN illustrates the demand for tinned food.
— Kristen (@thebecks2018) February 27, 2020
— Becky Hill (@scottbec) February 23, 2020
“Stores everywhere selling out of masks,” reports Seattle news station KIRO 7, noting that a box of surgical masks on Amazon is also retailing over $1000 dollars.
In the United Kingdom, online supermarket Ocado said it had been experiencing “exceptionally high demand” with customers placing “particularly large orders”.
The retailer is telling customers that they may have to make their orders further in advance due to shortages.
The New Zealand Herald reports that people are “stocking up for the apocalypse” despite there just being a single confirmed coronavirus case in the entire country.
“One shopper described lengthy queues, with water, hand sanitiser, soap and tissues flying off the shelves,” states the report, adding that there were huge lines at supermarkets across Auckland as soon as they opened.
Meanwhile, in Japan store shelves are being emptied of toilet paper despite an industry body’s request for people to stay calm.
Japan is running out of toilet paper pic.twitter.com/zrgMGZiBtp
— Russian Market (@russian_market) February 28, 2020
Kyodo News reports that stock is being exhausted just 5 minutes after it is placed on shelves at drug stores and supermarkets.
After photos of empty shelves went viral on social media, the Japanese government had to step in to reassure citizens, “Most toilet paper used in Japan is produced domestically and the supply chains remain intact.”
Meanwhile, the WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has said yet again today that “stigma” is a bigger threat than the coronavirus.
So despite the threat of a global pandemic and mass panic buying, at least we know people’s feelings won’t be hurt.
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