Hong Kong is witnessing a panic-buying due to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak which sometimes leads to long queues in supermarkets. In desperation to stock up necessary products, toilet rolls have become hot property in the semi-autonomous region and led to a bizarre situation.
Hong Kong police are looking for armed robbers who stole hundreds of toilet rolls amid the shortages of supply due to panic-buying. According to media reports, three knife-wielding men threatened a deliveryman and took toilet paper worth more than $130. A truck driver has been arrested in the case outside a supermarket in Mong Kok.
While the authorities have assured of no shortages, online rumours have fuelled the panic forcing the residents to stock the supplies. Distrust in authorities after months-long anti-government protests have also amplified the situation.
On February 15, anti-government protesters in Hong Kong took to streets against the government’s plan to turn some buildings in the residential area into quarantine centres. Hundreds of protesters marched in multiple towns including Tai Po and Tin Shui Wai and demanded full closure of mainland China border on Saturday.
Though the anti-Beijing protests had subsided due to the threat of Coronavirus, demonstrators again came out on streets chanting "Liberate Hong Kong, Revolution of our times" and "Oppose pneumonia clinic". The residents fear that the epidemic clinics will amplify the outbreak in the semi-autonomous region and have been demanding to not only drop the plan but also close the border.
However, Hong Kong’s chief executive Carrie Lam has said that full closure of border from mainland China will be “inappropriate”, “impractical” and “discriminatory”. Lam’s refusal to completely shut down the border has again forced the residents to come out on the streets. China has confirmed 2,048 new cases of coronavirus infections with 105 deaths on February 16, taking the death toll due to the deadly virus to 1,770.
(With agency inputs)