Find out what else re­gion’s cus­tomers are stock­ing up on due to virus fears

Central and North Burnett Times - - FRONT PAGE - JULIAN LEHN­ERT julian.lehn­ert@cnbtimes.com.au

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.

Pic­ture: Peter Parks

FEAR FAC­TOR: Su­per­mar­kets are fre­quently run­ning out of es­sen­tial sup­plies, but is the panic jus­ti­fied?

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