Panic at the groceries
THAT DOES IT - Korina Sanchez (The Freeman) - March 13, 2020 - 12:00am

Security guards waving off those intending to park as supermarkets are full of shoppers, or more correctly panic-buyers. Inside, people are like ants foraging for food. Shopping carts are filled with dozens of alcohol and hand sanitizers. Even the toilet paper craze similar to what is happening in Australia and America has spread locally. A variety of food items like meat, fish, chicken and even instant noodles. There is also a lot of demand for bleach, Lysol disinfectant spray, and other cleaning chemicals. And of course, people are also stocking up on canned goods and rice. Like a scene from an apocalyptic movie.

This is the effect of fear from the increasing number of positive cases of COVID-19 in the country, particularly in Metro Manila. The count has gone up to 49. People are stocking up on supplies due to a concern that a lockdown may be enforced in Metro Manila similar to that in Italy. Even pharmacies and drugstores have run out of medicine for fever and cough. According to DTI Sec. Lopez, there is no need to resort to panic-buying because a lockdown is not being considered. If many businesses are feeling the pinch due to a lack of customers, supermarkets and drugstores are making a killing.

For some, it is all about being prepared. I know a friend who keeps what he calls a "Go Bag". The bag includes canned goods that can be easily opened by hand, bottled water, battery-operated radio and flashlight with spare batteries, a Swiss knife, hand-crank cellphone charger, wipes and toilet paper, toothbrush, and toothpaste as well as chocolates and other things to eat. This is the bag you can immediately carry in the event of an earthquake, a powerful storm where the power may be out for several days. If he has to evacuate his home, he will have the supplies on hand. Naturally, it is only good for several days and is also dependent on the number of family members. My friend who has one child says his Go Bag will last them five days. In times of disasters or crisis, it is not always possible to say when things will normalize. Still, it seems like a good idea.

The situation in the country regarding the spread of COVID-19 is far from normal. With each passing day, the number of infected people seemed to increase. People will only calm down when the number of infected people stops. In Wuhan, China, they have closed down the last of 15 temporary hospitals built just for those infected. They no longer service patients who they claim have recovered. More than 12,000 patients were accepted and cared for in such hospitals. This is good news as it may signal the start of the decline in new infections in Wuhan where it all began. Hopefully, we will see a similar trend soon.

The Food and Drug Administration has approved the creation of a test kit by scientists at the University of the Philippines. This is good news because the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) sorely lacks COVID-19 test kits. The government should provide the necessary funding for the fight against COVID-19. The government also needs to clarify whether they will shoulder the cost of hospitalization of those found positive for the virus. If cases are increasing, will they seek treatment and will the government shoulder the costs? It may be difficult to ask the president nowadays with people uneasy after he cursed the country during a recent press briefing.

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