LOO PAPER ROLLING OUT SHOP DOORS
Find out what else region’s customers are stocking up on due to virus fears
AUSTRALIA is in the midst of a virus-induced panic causing shoppers to clear out supermarket shelves in preparation for a potential coronavirus quarantine scenario – but a North Burnett pharmacist says the scaremongering has gone too far.
Bernard Spain, a pharmacist at Mundubbera’s Guardian Pharmacy, has seen the panic buying first-hand as his place of work and many other stores across the North Burnett run short of hand sanitiser and face masks.
Mr Spain said the level of fear gripping the country was a vast over-reaction.
“To be honest, the more you isolate yourself, the less chance you’ll have of getting this thing, but it’s sort of over emphasised to a large degree,” he said.
“The best thing is to just keep a 2m distance between yourself and anybody else, particularly if they are coughing, sneezing or anything of that nature.
“Unless it really takes off exponentially, the average Joe Blow – as long as they keep that 2m distance – is going to be relatively safe,” he explained.
“It’s crazy, absolutely crazy. It’s a total over-reaction for sure.”
The virus, like the flu and many other infections, was spread via droplets produced by coughing and sneezing, Mr Spain said.
“Anyone who develops symptoms should just go to the doctors’ surgery and tell them the symptoms.
“And even then it may just be a common cold.
“In Mundubbera, the chance of catching the virus is fairly remote compared to capital cities.”
Mr Spain believed the panic buying would only make matters worse.
“It just creates an artificial and unnecessary shortage,” he said.
“The reality with face masks is that they offer minimal protection to people who just wear them to go out.
“Their primary purpose is to actually be used by people with the condition, so when they cough or sneeze they’re not sending any droplets out into the world.
“People misunderstand the use of these masks, so of course everyone goes and buys them thinking they’re doing the right thing.
“It’s probably an unnecessary step unless you actually are infected.”
Gayndah’s supermarkets have been similarly hit by the coronavirus fears but are trying to hold their own as the supply of toilet paper – another popular panic-buy item among shoppers – is dwindling.
“I’m surprised we’re not all out, but that’s pretty good,” an employee at Gayndah’s IGA said.
The town’s hand sanitiser stockpiles, however, are not faring quite as well.
“We’ve had a couple of customers who were sick with the flu who were trying to be cautious,” an employee at Gayndah’s Guardian Pharmacy said about the dwindling supply of sanitiser.
“If you do run out, the next best thing is using good handwashing techniques,” advised Gayndah pharmacist Stephanie Tucker.
“It’s basically just a waitand-see situation at the moment. Once again, it’s that quarantine.
“People should be self-isolating and notifying the hospitals if they do have it,” she said.
The Queensland Government has meanwhile issued notices to doctors and pharmacists across the state advising the public of the best ways to stay healthy.
The main tips include washing hands regularly, covering your face when sneezing or coughing, staying home if you feel unwell and keeping a safe distance from others.
FEAR FACTOR: Supermarkets are frequently running out of essential supplies, but is the panic justified?