With 74 confirmed cases and three deaths, Australia is far from making the top of the countries worst-affected by the new coronavirus. But thousands of shoppers seem to think otherwise, and it appears their worst fear is finding themselves stuck in the toilet without a square to spare.
Panic-buying increased across Australia this week amid fears that the outbreak will accelerate, leaving families trapped inside their homes with limited supplies.
On Saturday, inside a Melbourne Woolworths supermarket, canned goods and other food items remained in stock while toilet paper shelves were completely bare, despite the store rationing the number each shopper could buy.
“People are so ridiculous!! It’s no worse than flu season yet they’re acting like it’s the zombie apocalypse,” said shopper Karen Ficheroux.
Beginning in February, the Australian Department of Health has steadily increased restrictions on travellers returning from mainland China, Iran and South Korea – the countries worst hit by COVID-19 – with returnees required to “self isolate” for 14 days and seek medical attention if any symptoms appear.
The same applies to anyone who has been in close contact with an infected person, the department advises on its website.