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Panic buying takes grip

Bare shelves at Wairarapa supermarkets. PHOTO/SUPPLIED

‘Out of stock’ signs sitting lonely in big shelf gaps

Aleyna Martinez
[email protected]

Coronavirus panic buying has set in for Wairarapa, leaving hand wash, hand sanitiser, bleach, and antibacterial wipes in short supply.

A Times-Age survey of Unichem Pharmacy, Pak’nSave and The Warehouse in Masterton; New World in Carterton, FreshChoice in Greytown and SuperValue in Featherston found low stocks in hygiene products, but toilet paper was still available.

‘Out of stock’ signs are sitting lonely in big shelf gaps informing customers that store owners aren’t sure when they will be able to restock hand sanitiser.

New World Carterton owner-operator Diane Duffield said hand sanitiser had sold out well before the first case of covid-19 was confirmed in New Zealand on February 28.

She was told by one of her suppliers a shipment of sanitary products intended for New Zealand had been diverted this week “to more needy countries”.

Val Sleet, pharmacist manager at The Unichem Southend Pharmacy on Queen St said she hadn’t seen any panic buying in her shop but felt “a lot of our elderly population are very worried”.

The pharmacy is also unsure as to when they will be able to restock wipes, face masks, and sanitiser because suppliers are prioritising hospitals, medical centres and then pharmacies.


  1. Absolute lunacy. No need for this. People are being paranoid and selfish. The virus is less deadly than the normal flu. As long as you wash your hands regularly, cough/sneeze into your sleeve or a tissue, and be considerate of others health, you’ll be fine. We have great medical care. This panic buying is because of ignorance and selfishness. They don’t care that they’re making it so other people don’t have the necessities to fight the illness, as long as THEY can, and they don’t even understand how the illness works. It’s a lack of hygiene that spreads it, and by people buying up all of the hygiene supplies, they’re actually helping it spread faster. Pure ignorance and selfishness. Shameful.

    • People have more protection from the flu because there is a vaccine and they are exposed to flu viruses every year.

      There is no vaccine yet to protect people against Covid-19, the disease caused by the new virus.Scientists haven’t yet established exactly how deadly or transmissible the new virus is. But so far the new coronavirus appears to be deadlier than the seasonal flu, which kills thousands every year Calculations of the mortality rate for Covid-19 have ranged between 2% and 3.4% since the virus was identified in China in January, according to World Health Organization data. Those percentages are derived by dividing the number of confirmed deaths globally into the number of confirmed cases.

      By contrast, the seasonal flu has a death rate of approximately 0.1%.

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