Amid the unprecedented outbreak of deadly coronavirus, Hong Kong, which had previously experienced a shortage of face masks, went into a panic over rumours of toilet paper shortage. According to media reports, there were false online claims about toilet paper running out of all supermarket stores, making the panic buyers descend to grab toilet papers.
Videos have also surfaced online showing long queues of anxious Hong Kongers packing trolleys with multiple packs of toilet rolls along with some argument breaking out among them. The former British colony's social media is also reportedly filled with news of toilet paper shortage. Similarly, rice and pasta have also been targetted by the nervous buyers amid the fear of scarcity.
Hong Kong 🇭🇰 in panic.— Hiro Hamakawa (@hiro_hamakawa) February 5, 2020
Worried about a local outbreak of #WuhanPneumonia, & rumour said toilet paper factories in China 🇨🇳 will not back to work in the coming months. Toilet papers are hot items today.#AssistHongKong https://t.co/lzBh2UJHac pic.twitter.com/eNxbMmtbnR
A 32-year-old Briton who teaches at a school in Hong Kong reportedly told an international news agency that she witnessed chaotic scenes at the local supermarket on the morning of February 5. She also mentioned that the shop was 'packed' with people trying to hoard multiple packs of toilet rolls.
Hong Kong government also released a statement on late Wednesday addressing the rumours over the scarcity of toilet paper rolls as false. According to the city government, these false claims have fueled 'panic buying' and 'chaos'. The statement reportedly further blamed the people 'with evil intentions' for starting out 'the malicious act of spreading rumours when the city is fighting against the disease'. The government also assured the people that there are sufficient stocks of rice and pasta as well.
The fight against the deadly pathogen has sparked fears globally and Hong Kong recently witnessed the first death due to the deadly coronavirus. The medical officials reportedly abandoned work to demand full border shutdown with China, the epicentre of the outbreak. According to reports, the hospital authority said that it was cutting back services because several staff members were absent from duty and emergency services in public hospitals have also been affected.
The strike which had started on February 3 led to two of Hong Kong's land and sea crossings with the mainland to close at midnight. Last month, Chief Executive of Hong Kong Carrie Lam also announced to suspend train and ferry services. She also declared the virus as an 'emergency' and further upgraded the Hong Kong Disease contingency plan from 'serious' to 'emergency' level.
(Image credits: AP)