• With the government advising citizens to stay and work from home, shopping and storing supplies is sensible to avoid going out unnecessarily.
• Since some Kenyans are not staying home as directed, someone with a house full of toilet paper will catch the virus from someone who found all stocks out.
People across the world are reacting differently to the coronavirus pandemic, but one common reaction is the panic buying of toilet paper.
On Saturday in an Australian supermarket, a video surfaced showing three women pulling each other’s hair and screaming over a large pack of toilet rolls.
In Kenya, some supermarkets have employed officials to stop people from buying all the toilet paper as well as rationing sales and assuring customers that there is enough for everyone.
What exactly is it with toilet papers that has caused mayhem across borders? The panic buying we witness in the current crisis also happened in past pandemics including the Spanish flu in 1918 that killed approximately 700,000 Americans.
But let us think about it from a different angle, if everyone buys only what they needed, there would be no shortages. Thus, if some shoppers buy all the items considered essential in containing the spread of the virus, others will not have a single item.
The disease spreads through contact with the respiratory fluids of an infected person. Someone will get infected because they don't have the supplies to protect themselves and since Kenyans are not staying at home, someone who has filled their cabinets with toilet paper and sanitiser will come into contact with the infected person and take the virus back home – not having gained from stockpiling toilet paper.
Social media is also creating contagious fear; when videos and pictures of people shopping everything are shared online, the problem is magnified to other citizens who probably have all the supplies they need and they run back to the stores to buy more.
With the government advising citizens to stay and work from home, shopping and storing supplies in the house is the only sensible thing to do to avoid going out unnecessarily.
Again, filling the house with toilet paper may turn back on the people panic shopping if the situation gets to the worst-case scenario and all they have in the house will be toilet paper.
Managing partner Watermark Consultants