Panic buying takes over parts of Toronto as officials stress coronavirus risk remains low

Mar 3 2020, 7:29 am

Some Toronto residents appear to be panicking in response to the coronavirus by emptying the shelves at wholesale stores.

Shoppers are stocking up on products like toilet paper and bread out of fear of a possible pandemic outbreak.

While Toronto Health Officials and Mayor John Tory have told the Toronto public to not panic, some residents of the city feel otherwise.

People took to social media to show the empty shelves and long lineups at various Costco locations in the GTA.

In the tweets, shoppers are sharing what appears to be “panic buying” in the city, which is defined as buying large quantities of a particular product due to fear of a forthcoming shortage.

One person in Toronto posted “no bread, no potatoes, no toilet papers, no paper towels.”

Another posted photo shows people climbing the shelves at a Costco store in Markham, grabbing various products, “panic buying had began [sic] in Toronto — Costco Markham Store,” the tweet read.

Photos of the long lines at the store were also shared.

On Monday, health officials said three more confirmed coronavirus cases were identified in Ontario, bringing the total to 18.

But in a Twitter thread on Sunday, Mayor John Tory said that, “public health officials have been working non-stop to make sure we are ready for an increase in COVID-19 cases.”

Tory said it is important to avoid “complacency and panic” as public health experts have repeatedly said the risk to the public is low.

“At times like this, we have to follow the advice of our public health experts – who continue to advise the risk to the public is low – and avoid both complacency or panic,” Tory said.

Tory confirmed that he is in constant communication with Dr. Eileen de Villa, Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health, who has said it is helpful to prepare in general for any illness, not just COVID-19.

“For families, this may mean considering your household needs and how you may address them if someone in your household becomes unwell. Things that people may consider include having supplies on-hand so you do not need to leave home if you become ill, or how to plan childcare needs,” de Villa said in a statement.

While questions have been asked about postponing or cancelling events that draw in large crowds de Villa said at this time, such actions are unnecessary and that prevention measures for areas of need are the priority.

However, “limiting non-essential public gatherings are public health measures that can be used to further protect our community, if our local situation changes,” de Villa said.

Panic buying in response to coronavirus is popping up on the west coast of the country too with a similar situation occurring in Vancouver, where massive lineups at a downtown Costco store had items “flying off the shelf.”

Daily Hive has reached out to Costco for comment and will update accordingly.