Shoppers cleared shelves of food and disinfectants at some Hong Kong supermarkets on Wednesday, as residents fretted about a local coronavirus outbreak, though traders remained confident supplies would remain stable. Worried residents at a ParknShop supermarket in Heng Fa Chuen were told by staff to come back earlier the next day, after vegetables sold out by 2pm. One employee, who declined to be named, said supply had stayed the same but demand had surged. “Just like surgical face masks. It’s a special period right now,” he said. Eggs, noodles, rice and even bottled water had been cleared from shelves at the store, along with disinfectant products and fresh produce. The number of confirmed cases of the coronavirus, first discovered in Wuhan in Hubei province, has topped 6,100 worldwide, with more than 6,000 in mainland China, where 132 people have died. Hong Kong has 10 confirmed cases. In Yuen Long, a shortage forced 35-year-old homemaker Cheung to turn to more expensive imported products such as giant grouper fish, which was being sold at HK$50 (US$6.50) per 100 grams. “I don’t care how much it costs. It’s good enough to have something to eat,” she said. Stores in the district had sold out of greens by early Wednesday afternoon, and customers there scrambled to stock up on frozen food, as well as hand soap and tissues. However, supermarkets in North Point remained well stocked with food, although disinfectants were sold out. Most people there were doing their daily shopping and only picking up what they needed. Two of Hong Kong’s largest supermarket chains, Wellcome and ParknShop, said they were working to maintain a stable supply of produce. Dairy Farm, which operates Wellcome, said it was “working round the clock” to restock as quickly as possible in areas where demand had spiked. AS Watson, which runs ParknShop, said its 260 stores in the city would stay open. “I am not that worried,” said Cheng, a businessman in his 50s who was buying canned food in Heng Fa Chuen. “But I can understand why many are panicking and stocking up on food. Their actions show they have lost confidence in the government. “As the government is not helping us, we have to do what we can to feel assured.” Another shopper, Stella, said she decided to stock up after seeing some of the empty shelves, but also to reduce the need to head outdoors in the coming days. “I am worried they will run out of stock, as many are panicking and buying more,” the 60-year-old housewife said. Suppliers, on the other hand, said they had not seen any obvious increase in orders and were confident stocks would remain stable. Hundreds queue for masks amid virus crisis, with some in line at 7am One canned food distributor said orders were up by about 30 per cent. But it added that such an increase was usual over the Lunar New Year period, as supermarkets tended to place larger orders before the festive season and restock again right after. Fruit and vegetable merchants, which were only set to resume business on Thursday, were expecting to see a decrease in trade, said Cheung Chi-cheung, vice-president of the Kowloon Fruits and Vegetables Merchants Association. “In fact, from the first day of Lunar New Year on Saturday until today, business has been bad. It’s the economy and the political situation, not the virus,” he said.