Hong Kong is sick, not so much as a result of a community outbreak of the new coronavirus , but sweeping panic that corrupts sanity like a vicious superbug. Compounded by indecisiveness and delayed measures to contain the disease, the latest being the 14-day quarantine for arrivals from mainland China , the outcome is devastating, as seen in the frantic buying of toilet rolls and food products over the past two days. The city is in desperate need of a heavy dose of hope and confidence to restore calm and solidarity, without which the health crisis cannot be overcome. The prompt clarifications from product suppliers are to be welcomed. Unlike surgical masks , which are genuinely undersupplied, the empty shelves in supermarkets and pharmacies are a result of bulk buying. We have been assured that supplies will resume as soon as stockpiling ceases. Alas, the news did not travel as fast as the rumours and irrational behaviour continued yesterday. Surgical masks and hygiene products have been in short supply ever since the deadly virus that originated in Wuhan hit the city. Panic apparently intensified amid fears that the belated step by the government to quarantine all arrivals from mainland China, including Hong Kong residents, would restrict supplies of goods from the north. Understandably, there is a need to allow limited cross-border activities, including the delivery of daily necessities. But the message was lost amid rumours and fake online posts. It does not take a veteran public officer like Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor to realise that new measures with a far-reaching impact must be explained unequivocally. Regrettably, the chief executive failed to dispel misunderstanding when introducing the much-anticipated border control. This is not the first time the embattled leader has come under fire for remarks over the health crisis. She was forced to apologise for the confusion after her ban on officials wearing surgical masks stirred outrage among civil servants. The quarantine is due to take effect on Saturday. While details remain to be seen, the measure should have been put in place earlier. Many questions are still unanswered – will it prompt a sudden surge in arrivals in the meantime? Do we have enough isolation facilities? Are we opening the floodgates to mainland Chinese to seek treatment in our overloaded hospitals? If travellers can be quarantined in hotels, will there be liability for staff if the order is not followed? The logistics must be carefully thought through for the measure to be effectively implemented. With confidence in the government seriously dented by the civil unrest , the deepening health crisis poses further challenges. Lam must strive to stabilise the situation with more decisive, forceful and practical measures.