'It's like a storm around here'

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'It's like a storm around here'

COVID-19 case triggers rush on stores

BY RACQUEL PORTER
Observer staff reporter
porterr@jamaicaobserver.com

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

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THE flood of Jamaicans flocking retail outlets yesterday following news that the country had its first recorded case of the coronavirus had one store manager describing the rush as similar to when a hurricane warning is issued.
The manager, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told the Jamaica Observer that the panic buying started shortly after Minister of Health and Wellness Dr Christopher Tufton confirmed the island's first imported case of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).


“I don't have much Lysol spray left,” the manager stated.


The manager said, too, that since the announcement of the coronavirus case the sale of rubbing alcohol and hydrogen peroxide had increased. In addition, the manager said wipes and canned foods were in high demand.


During the interview, two of three trolleys containing Lysol spray that emerged from the storeroom vanished as shoppers rushed to get cans of the disinfectant.


“All a wah come out gone. A so it a sell like hot bread, everything gone, man. It is like a storm around here,”Customer Service Representative Marie Carrington told the Observer.


As if her testimony was not enough, CariMed representative Dave Williams said: “I brought out three trolleys of Lysol and I couldn't put them on the shelves. As I came out people started taking out of the trolleys before I could get a chance to place them on the shelves.”


Clutching three Lysol sprays and toilet bowl cleaner in his hands, shopper Michael Gordon told the Observer that one of the well-sought-after items was for a friend.
“You have to be careful no matter what is going on, so I just picked up a couple of Lysol spray,” Gordon said, adding that the remaining disinfectants were for his home and church.


Noting that the hygienic measures that are now enforced are what people should have been practising, he said people have to avoid potential danger.
When the Observer visited Brooklyn Supermarket in Twin Gates Plaza, St Andrew, Lysol spray was the item most in demand.


Others bought wipes, vinegar, bleach, and other disinfecting items.


Director Timothy Lym said yesterday's action was unusual.


“I am wondering if people are stocking up as a result of what is taking place; maybe they are thinking that they will have to be quarantined or maybe they think they will have to limit their outings. I have always thought that if this corona fear spreads people will stop going out and eating as much so they probably will be eating indoors, so I am suspecting that they will probably pick up more food here and I am almost thinking that this is what we are witnessing here now,” Lym said.
Noting that his stock of Lysol spray was diminishing rapidly and could be out of stock by Thursday, he said they are trying to ensure that every customer has the opportunity to purchase a can, although he said some customers are not receptive to the measure.


“They are negotiating for more, they are saying that they are purchasing for more than one person… it is the usual desperation tactics. If we were to cover [as] many people as possible we have to be very strict about it,” the director said.


Moments later when the newspaper visited Rapid True Value on Constant Spring Road an elderly woman was left disappointed after scanning aisle four. “Monday I came here and they were here; they took it up,” the woman complained after not getting a can of Lysol.


The intervention of a store representative was not comforting when she was told her that they were out of stock.


Meanwhile, in downtown Kingston, a handful of vendors were seen selling masks.
Clutching a box of 50 masks, Cindy Small said she had sold one box already for $50 each.


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