Coronavirus: Hong Kong public continues to panic buy daily essentials amid Covid-19 crisis

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Shelves for toilet paper, rice and bleach remain empty, but supermarkets like Wellcome and Parknshop insist they have a stable supply

Wong Tsui-kai |
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While supermarkets say they have increased delivery orders, shoppers often find the shelves bare.

Hong Kong is still crossing its legs as panic buying and shortages of hygiene products such as toilet paper and tissue continue in a city gripped by concern over the novel coronavirus. 

Major supermarket Wellcome has limited the purchase of daily essentials such as rice, bleach, tissue and soap since February 2. Parknshop has followed suit on various types of tissues and toilet rolls. Both supermarkets have informed customers they are out of face masks. In a written answer to questions, Parknshop said they are aware of the shortages and have doubled deliveries to stores, pointing out they have a stable supply and urging customers to buy rationally. 

“We have been in close contact with our suppliers to provide sufficient stock. We believe now that the suppliers and manufacturers are gradually coming back to work, the supply will be further improved,” said a spokesperson.

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The shortage has enticed people to attempt to profit though crime, as police arrested a third man suspected to be involved in a robbery of 600 toilet paper rolls from a Wellcome store in Mong Kok. 

“We believe the trio thought the rolls would have [market] value and that they could profit by reselling them,” Chief Inspector Chow Ka-man said. “They knew each other and one of them has a triad background.”

The government has repeatedly reassured the public that supplies remain unaffected by the outbreak, yet residents continue to empty grocery stores. 

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