Coronavirus: Families stockpile food and medicine in preparation for self-isolation.
Families have been stockpiling food and medicine in preparation for self-isolation during the coronavirus outbreak. Worried parents have been hitting the shops for essentials – and other not so essential items – over fears entire families could be placed on lock down for weeks at a time.
Everything from nappies, tinned food, medicine, water and even wine, are being bought by many in bulk. Some people have even gone as far as to buy portable toilets should they need to use a separate loo if a family member becomes infected.
Some shops have seen the shelves stripped bare, such as Boots, where many branches have completely sold out of hand sanitizer. A shortage of antibacterial gel has also been reported on eBay and Amazon – as people become desperate to rid their hands of germs.
Others are creating ‘isolation zones’ within their own homes – fitted with cooking facilities, bedding and food.
Mumsnet users have been sharing lists of their bulk-buys – with some adding some less typical essentials to the list – such as hummus and baba ganoush. One user said:
“I’ve cleaned and prepped the farm caravan so if needed it could be an isolation suite. Useful place to store surplus supplies, tinned food etc as well.”
Experts now fear stockpiling in this way could become rife – leading to a shortage of enough stock to go round, reports the Mail.
Professor Chakraborty, said: “One big opportunity for the supermarkets may be home delivery, where online grocery retailers could see a bonanza as consumers shy away from visiting stores and instead prefer to shop from the safety of their own homes.
“There is no immediate need to stockpile or panic buy any goods, but people should be prepared to help out and shop for vulnerable relatives and friends who are elderly or have underlying conditions which places them at a greater risk of developing severe symptoms if the coronavirus spreads.”
Another Mumsnet user said she was considering stockpiling goods of the back of a sudden increase in cases in Northern Italy.
She said: “Reading about the Italian villages that have been put on lock down and families can’t leave their homes has got me thinking…Italy isn’t a million miles away. It’s not a third world country. If it’s happened there…”
Hundreds responded to her post, with many agreeing that stockpiling was a sensible idea. One parent said they had been bulk-buying soup, tinned fruit, flour and crackers. However, the US Centres of Disease Control and Prevention said such behaviour could cause a “severe” disruption to daily life.
Anna Schuchat from the centre said there was a need for “new strategies” in the approach to preparation.
There are now 15 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the UK. The spread has led to several firms sending their staff home, including Chevron which has asked 300 staff not to come into its Canary Wharf office ‘for the time being.’ But as panic spreads, experts have been giving advice on how to best manage worries and prepare.
Dr Babak Ashrafi, a doctor with Zava, explained that the best way to avoid the virus is regularly washing your hands with soap and water. He said:
“The primary advice is using soap and water to wash your hands – that’s the best way to get rid of bacteria. Hand sanitiser isn’t as good, but is better than nothing, especially if you’ve been out in public.”
However, Dr Ashrafi added that using too much hand sanitiser is never a good idea. He explained: “Some people can get severe drying, which can lead to cracking. Cracks could potentially increase your risk of coronavirus. If you have access to soap and water that’s much better.”