Britons are panic buying nappies, toilet roll, soup, tinned fruit, pet food, medicine, bottled water, wine and even setting up ‘isolation’ rooms at home in case coronavirus shuts down their communities, it was revealed today.
Families are stockpiling reserves to ensure their homes are ‘fit for a pandemic’ with some purchasing new chest freezers to fill with food and portable camp toilets to avoid sharing a loo if a relative tests positive for the killer virus.
A shortage of germ-killing antibacterial gel has seen a spurt in sales of surgical spirit on eBay and Amazon by people desperate to sanatise their hands, with Boots sold out online today.
On social media one panicked Briton revealed that they have turned one small room in their house into an ‘isolation zone’ equipped with cooking equipment, bedding and food if they have to be in quarantine for a fortnight.
Another Mumsnet user said: ‘I’ve cleaned and prepped the farm caravan so if needed it could be an isolation suite. Useful place to store surplus supplies, tinned food etc as well’.
Others are drawing up spreadsheets of the items they need to buy to last them weeks or months in self-isolation.
Professor Ratula Chakraborty, professor of business management at the University of East Anglia (UEA), said: ‘The prospect of whole towns being in lockdown and shops closed is heightening the fear and stockpiling may become rife’.
Britons have admitted stockpiling items ranging from loo roll and tinned food to new freezers and toilets because of coronavirus
This Mumsnet user revealed her stockpiling shopping list on a thread called: ‘Prepping for a pandemic’, which included olive oil, dips, crackers, chocolate and printer paper
In a thread on coronavirus this user sent out her ‘dear husband’ to pick a large chest freezer to store more food
This user set out a plan for ‘a house fit for a pandemic’ once all the stockpiling is up to date
Experts believe the stockpiling of medicine and food in family homes ‘may become rife’ as people grow increasingly concerned about coronavirus disrupting British life.
Professor Chakraborty, said: ‘One big opportunity for the supermarkets may be home delivery, where online grocery retailers could see a bonanza as consumers shy away from visiting stores and instead prefer to shop from the safety of their own homes.
‘There is no immediate need to stockpile or panic buy any goods, but people should be prepared to help out and shop for vulnerable relatives and friends who are elderly or have underlying conditions which places them at a greater risk of developing severe symptoms if the coronavirus spreads.
In one discussion on Mumsnet, a poster asked if they were being unreasonable ‘to be considering a small stockpile or supplies because of corona?’
They added: ‘Reading about the Italian villages that have been put on lockdown and families can’t leave their homes has got me thinking…Italy isn’t a million miles away. It’s not a third world country. If it’s happened there…’
Almost 200 people responded to the message, with most saying they are also stockpiling tinned goods, toilet rolls and other supplies.
Boots is sold out of surgical spirit online, which people are using as an alternative to antibacterial hand gel, which is being rationed by some shops
This user has confired she is buying powdered egg for baking in case fresh ones become hard to come by
‘Julie’ was looking to order a camp toilet for at home. Some are concerned about sharing toilets at home if someone falls ill
Some have revealed they are building spreedsheets with lists of items they have bought, use by dates and meal plans
One said they were ‘filling the cupboard with soup, tomatoes, tinned fruit, flour, crackers etc in advance.
‘I’ll still eat them all, but they last for months anyway, and when people are surging into supermarkets stripping the shelves I won’t be adding to the masses worried they won’t have enough. I’ll be out of the way and not contributing to shortages.’
On Tuesday, an official at the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention warned of the potential for ‘severe’ disruption to daily life in the event of coronavirus becoming a pandemic.
Anne Schuchat, principal deputy director of the CDC, said there was a need for ‘new strategies’.
The CDC has been urging businesses, schools and families to prepare for a possible outbreak of Covid-19 in the US, including potentially allowing employees to work from home and internet-based lessons.
In the UK, England’s Chief Medical Officer, Professor Chris Whitty, has said school closures could occur if the virus spreads, while people could be asked to stay at home with their families.