Epidemic and fear of isolation have Hong Kong supermarkets run out of stock
by Paul Wang

People have stocked up on rice, pork, chicken, fruit, vegetables, and seafood. The supply of surgical masks, rubber gloves, and disinfectants has run out. The number of coronavirus-affected cases now stands at 24. The virus is now spreading directly through local contacts unrelated with the mainland.

Hong Kong (AsiaNews) - A parish in Cheung Chau has been trying to find surgical masks to little avail as pharmacies and other stores are out of stock. Without them meeting in church on Sunday carries some risks.

Since the coronavirus epidemic began, masks and other medical supplies have all but disappeared in Hong Kong.

A resident in Kennedy Town spent a day looking for bleach or disinfectant for her parish and for her home but could find none, not even a bottle.

The diocese has ordered that meeting rooms and churches are to be disinfected and that highest levels of hygiene be kept.

Ever since the coronavirus epidemic broke out and the first cases reported in Hong Kong, residents have stocked up on masks, gloves and disinfectant. This has led to shortages.

Fear of a new outbreak like the SARS crisis 17 years ago – when 300 Hong Kong people died – is driving people to stock up on drugs and other items to ward off the virus.

With the government closing off links to China and placing all passengers from the mainland under quarantine, there is also a fear of running out of food, which comes mostly from China.

In the blink of an eye, supermarket shelves have become empty with people stockpiling on rice, pork, chicken, fruit, vegetables, seafood, etc.

The authorities have tried to allay fears by saying that food deliveries from China will be disinfected and not placed under a 14-day quarantine, thus causing delays of hours, not days, in their distribution.

In Hong Kong itself, doctors and nurses have been on strike for four days because the government has refused to follow their advice and completely close the border with China.

At least 5,000 medical and hospital personnel have stayed away from work, affecting local healthcare.