Australia’s toilet paper panic spreads overseas

On Friday, shoppers complained of bare aisles and people hoarding loo roll in grocery stores across the UK, including Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Morrisons.

Shortages of hand soap, disinfectants, baby wipes, pasta and rice were also spotted in stores.

“Sorry, but I’m actually a little relived to see this,” one Australian wrote on Twitter.

“I was honestly thinking the whole toilet paper thing was basically only happening here in Australia.”

Boots – one of the UK’s biggest pharmacy chains – has advised that hand sanitiser is sold out in some of its stores and will be rationed in others. Signs posted on shelves also warned face masks were unavailable.

The British Retail Consortium, which represents most of the UK’s supermarkets, told there had been a “rise in demand” for both hygiene and long-life products.

“Our members are working as hard as they can to ensure all consumers have access to the products they need,” the director of food and sustainability, Andrew Opie, said.

In the United States, police were called to a Costco in California on Friday after customers became “unruly” over shortages of toilet paper, water and paper towels.

Kroger Co, the biggest independent grocer in the US, has also placed limits on the number of “sanitisation” and “cold and flu-related” products people can buy.

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Toilet paper completely sold out at Coles Mooloolaba due to coronavirus fears. Picture: News Corp AustraliaSource:News Corp Australia

People leave a Costco warehouse with rolls of toilet paper in Melbourne. Picture: AFP/William WEST

People leave a Costco warehouse with rolls of toilet paper in Melbourne. Picture: AFP/William WESTSource:AFP

Australia’s toilet paper crisis reached fever pitch when photos of empty shelves and stuffed trolleys went viral on social media this week.

One shopper told they were stocking up because everyone had gone “a little bit crazy”.

“I’m buying it because everyone else is doing it,” another said.

More than 60 cases of the virus have now been reported across the country and two people have died.

On Friday, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the outbreak could cost Australian taxpayers about $1 billion in health spending.


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