Supermarkets take further action after coronavirus panic purchase leaves shelves empty

Supermarkets are taking extra steps to ensure their shelves are stocked with everyday items after a wave of coronavirus-related panic buying has cleaned up many essential commodity outlets.

Global media coverage of the global spread of the virus and confirmation of Australia’s first death due to infection caused a weekend rush for basic items such as toilet paper, diapers, long-lasting milk and hand sanitizer.

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The current advice for people who may be infected with the coronavirus is to stay in isolation for 14 days, so people will prepare to pack up with everything they need if they get sick.

Shoppers took to social media to post pictures of supermarkets with entire rows of shelves devoid of product.

“People catch stuff”

In Perth, residents were seen emptying Claremont shelves on Saturday, buy bottled water, canned goods and loose toilet paper.

One customer described the scenes as “intimidating”.

“There are so many people grabbing stuff,” said Lucy Bell. “It’s intimidating.”

Panic in the supermarket: shoppers stock up on everyday items. Credit: 7NEWS

Another client, Clare Wait, said she was nervous about returning to work.

“I’m a little scared to go back to work and be exposed and then bring it home for my baby,” she said.

Supermarkets are responding

On Monday evening, Coles released a statement saying they are working hard to replenish their depleted shelves.

“Coles has increased the number of store deliveries this week to improve the availability of popular products, such as long-life commodities and health items,” the statement said.

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“There are so many people grabbing stuff, it’s intimidating.”

“Like many retailers, we currently have a shortage of some antibacterial hand washing products and hand sanitizer due to high customer demand.

“We continue to work with our suppliers to maintain availability for customers. “

Shortage of masks

While hand sanitizer is scarce, so are face masks – so much so that dentists and other healthcare professionals face a shortage.

Dental offices in the UK and Australia say they face a desperate shortage of face masks amid concerns over the coronavirus.

The British Dental Association (BDA) said some large clinics across the country will run out of masks by the middle of next week and will not be able to treat patients safely under current rules.

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The BDA said similar problems are seen in Australia, New Zealand and Canada.

A message from the Australian Dental Association to the BDA said: “Here in Australia we are potentially going to face a face mask shortage situation as our suppliers all depend heavily on Chinese manufacturers.”

Health authorities have indicated that the port face masks will not necessarily prevent healthy people from contracting the virus.

The United States Center for Disease Control and Prevention says there are more important and useful things to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus, such as washing your hands frequently, sneezing into a tissue before throwing it out, staying away away from school or work in case of illness and regularly clean frequently touched surfaces with disinfectant.

– with AAP

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