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Coronavirus: What to stockpile (and how to do it sensibly)

Coronavirus: What You Need To Stockpile (Spoiler: Not Toilet Paper)

Nobody needs to hoard toilet paper, but is there anything you should stock up on?

If you’re worried about the coronavirus pandemic and its potential impact on the supplies you rely on, here are some facts you need to be aware of.

See our coronavirus hub.

How deadly is coronavirus?

Most people who contract COVID-19 fully recover. The case fatality rate globally, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), is approximately 3.58%, (as of 16/08/20 ). While that number may rise, the chance of death remains low. The majority of infected people recover after experiencing mild, flu-like symptoms.

With that said, various health organisations have warned COVID-19’s potential impact on the world remains unknown. The elderly, people in group residential settings and anyone diagnosed with chronic medical conditions need to be additionally careful.

Why do people panic buy?

WHO has referred to the virus’ spread as “uncharted territory”, which helps to explain why certain items, including hand sanitiser, are disappearing from supermarket shelves. People don’t know what’s going to happen next and they want to be prepared.

Consumer psychologist, Paul Harrison said the uncertainty of the situation is what triggers people to stockpile basic supplies.

“News about the coronavirus is unfolding hourly, and many of us are struggling to keep up with a ‘source of truth’. In reality, this is because no one really knows what is going to happen, Dr Harrison said.

“The simple act of problem-solving – any problem solving – gives us a sense of control. [Buying] utilitarian, practical and regularly bought products, such as toilet paper and cleaning products, tends to be one of the simple ways that we feel this sense of achievement.”

What do I need to stockpile?

Presently, you do not need to stockpile anything. There are more than enough consumer products for everybody – provided we keep a level head and shop responsibly.

What should I buy to be on the safe side?

Once again, there is currently no need to stockpile any products in New Zealand. Supermarkets are open and supply chains are operating. However, if it gives you peace of mind, there are some items that you can consider stocking up on. The following list was compiled by the US Department of Homeland Security. While not specific to coronavirus or New Zealand, it provides general advice for large-scale pandemics:

  • Store a two-week supply of water and food.
  • Periodically, check your regular prescription drugs to ensure a continuous supply in your home.
  • Have any nonprescription drugs and other health supplies on hand.

Naturally, you should stick to non-perishable foods that contain plenty of energy and protein, like canned meats and canned vegetables. Nuts, cereals, dried fruits and powdered milk are also good choices. You might also want to consider multivitamins which have a long shelf life.

The most important thing is to stockpile responsibly. Even in a worst-case scenario, New Zealand is not going to descend into a real-life Mad Max situation tomorrow. In other words, there’s no need to rush out and bulk-buy everything in one go, as this deprives other shoppers of the supplies they need. Some supermarkets have placed restrictions on how many items you can buy to make it fair on everybody. In addition, shopping hours may be reduced to allow staff time to stock shelves.

With this in mind, you could still add to your shopping list – a couple of bottles of water, canned goods and anything else you’re anxious about. Just make sure to take note of any limitations on items and respect social distancing, in accordance with each alert level, while at the supermarket.

Plus, don’t forget to ensure your pets have enough food and essential medicines for a fortnight.

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