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Taiwanese empty supermarket shelves as local COVID cases rise

Nation sees runs on toilet paper, instant noodles, masks as level 3 warning looms

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(Facebook, 爆怨2公社 and Costco好市多 商品經驗老實說 photos)

(Facebook, 爆怨2公社 and Costco好市多 商品經驗老實說 photos)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Panic buying set in across Taiwan after 16 local COVID-19 cases were reported in one day, which sparked fears that the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) would declare a Level 3 epidemic warning.

At a press conference on Wednesday (May 13), Health Minister and CECC head Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) announced 21 new cases, including 16 local cases in four different parts of the country. Earlier that day, Chen told the Legislative Yuan that the epidemic warning could be raised to level 3 that day, but he later backtracked and said this would be issued in "the coming days."

Taiwanese empty supermarket shelves as local COVID cases rise
Instant noodles disappear from shelves. (Facebook, 路上觀察學院 photo)

The 16 local cases marked the largest number reported in Taiwan in a single day since the start of the pandemic. If a level 3 alert is put in place, people must wear a mask at all times when venturing out, and indoor gatherings will be limited to five people, with outdoor gatherings restricted to 10.

Spooked by the upsurge in cases and the prospect of heightened restrictions, Taiwanese consumers flocked to hypermarkets and supermarkets, as well as e-commerce sites, during the after-work rush hour. Similar to previous panic-buying frenzies, Taiwanese swooped up toilet paper, antibacterial laundry detergent, dishwashing detergent, alcohol-based disinfectant, surgical masks, meat, fresh produce, and instant noodles.

Taiwanese empty supermarket shelves as local COVID cases rise
(Facebook, 細說淡水 photo)

In response, the Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA) stated that it is monitoring the situation through various channels. According to the ministry, some stores have reported shelves being cleared of such products but claim they can adjust to the demand and deny there are any shortages.

E-commerce platforms have also reported a massive increase in sales of staple goods and epidemic prevention materials. However, they say that they have expedited their shipments and that they have the capacity to deal with the increased volume.

Taiwanese empty supermarket shelves as local COVID cases rise
(Facebook, 爆怨2公社 photo)

Taiwanese netizens have posted images of long lines and empty shelves and made comments such as "Can't you calm down?" Others have pointed out that under the level 2 epidemic warning currently in place, the CECC is calling on people to avoid crowded places to lower the risk of transmission.

Taiwanese empty supermarket shelves as local COVID cases rise
(Facebook, 爆怨2公社 photo)


Taiwanese empty supermarket shelves as local COVID cases rise
(Facebook, 細說淡水 photo)

Taiwanese empty supermarket shelves as local COVID cases rise
Long line seen at checkout in New Taipei. (Facebook, 我是中和人 photo)


Updated : 2021-06-16 07:44 GMT+08:00