Panic buying

Customers crowd the cashiers at Shop N Save Supermarket in Lautoka last week. Picture: BALJEET SINGH

The announcement of Fiji’s first COVID-19 case released an avalanche of panic-stricken consumers in parts of the country on Thursday.

They flooded supermarkets. They loaded their trolleys with food, and what they considered essential items. They each had different reasons for their part in this wave of panic.

It wasn’t the setting we wanted. However, it was similar to scenarios that existed around the world as the COVID-19 spread.

The reaction was overwhelming in many cities around the world. There was impulsive buying riding on the back of copy-cats.

The reaction did focus attention on the supply chain, and raised questions about why people reacted the way they did. Sceptics picked on hoarding and panic buying as hurtful, placing unnecessary pressure on stock and the supply chain.

It does touch on aspects of our lives that we should value, such as consideration for others for instance.

There is an element of irresponsibility in there as well when you consider the greater implications of panic buying.

Is there a need for this though? Let’s face it. We may as well be contributing directly to a perceived shortage of products, which isn’t affected by a lack of supply.

surely we’d all like to see challenges in supply-and-demand balance out. We realise though that wanting to stock up on necessities is not something we can easily shrug off.

Unfortunately panic buying has the potential to place pressure on those in the vulnerable group. Let’s be considerate.

Meanwhile, seven new countries/territories/areas (African Region (3), Eastern Mediterranean Region (1), European Region (1), and Region of the Americas (2) have reported cases of COVID-19 as of yesterday.

According to the World Health Organization, the number of confirmed cases worldwide has exceeded 200,000.

It took over three months to reach the first 100,000 confirmed cases, and only 12 days to reach the next 100,000. It said a new protocol to investigate the extent of COVID-19 infection in the population, as determined by positive antibody tests in the general population, has been developed. COVID-19 continues to place pressure on health systems around the world.

Now that we are into the back checking phase for our first case, interest is focused on developments following the incubation period. This certainly isn’t the time for panic.

What we must do is to be aware of action we can take in the wake of this first case. That means understanding this COVID-19, the symptoms, and action to keep it at bay.

That will entail raising our level of personal hygiene, and awareness. So let’s continue to wash our hands, embrace social distancing, cover our mouths when we cough or sneeze, and do away with shaking hands and hugging others.

Let’s look up to the powers that be to ensure our safety, and to create a level of awareness that is both enlightening and reassuring.

Let’s not panic, but let’s take control of our destiny.

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