What to stock up on for virus preparation
Australians have been urged not to start panic buying an unnecessary amount of items in response to the coronavirus outbreak, however there are a few main products you may need to start buying more of.
Victorian Chief Health Officer, Dr Brett Sutton, said people don't need to rush out and clear supermarket shelves but they should think about what they would need if they were to be infected with the virus.
"We are telling people to go about their normal lives. But they do need to think about what it would mean, should they become a case, should they be infected with COVID-19, and therefore need to isolate at home for two or three weeks," he told reporters in Melbourne today.
"So what are the things that they need to think about in order to manage the situation? Pet food? Food for themselves. Understand how to care for themselves. Understand how others could care for them should they require it, or if they have emergencies."
He said preparing for the possibility of being infected with the virus doesn't mean people have to start stockpiling items straight away, "but it does require you to think about it, make some plans and understand what your needs are".
Dr Sutton said it was reasonable to start stocking up on a few important items like medicines, food and other priority products over the next few weeks.
He said he would be "concerned" to hear that certain items had run out at supermarkets because people had immediately rushed out to stock up
"But I do think that people should make the plans. They can purchase them routinely through the normal shopping and then to stock them at home as required," he said.
This advice comes after an elderly Perth man became the first Australian to die from the coronavirus.
James Kwan, 78, contracted the virus on the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan.
He died at Perth's Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital on Sunday morning after being transferred there from a quarantine facility at Howard Springs in the Northern Territory.
WA Premier Mark McGowan said Mr Kwan spent his final moments alone because he was quarantined.
"It would have been awful, they couldn't go in and touch him or hold his hand, it would have been so tragically sad," Mr McGown said about Mr Kwan's family.
"You don't want to leave this world without someone holding your hand."
So far Australia has recorded 28 infections, and federal Health Minister Greg Hunt has warned more cases are "almost inevitable".
Four people who recently returned to Australia from Iran are the latest in the country to test positive for the illness.
Coronavirus panic buying has been sweeping through stores across multiple countries, including Australia, New Zealand and the USA, with shoppers emptying shelves of food, toilet paper, bottled water and hand sanitiser.
Posts on Twitter record stockpiling by panicked locals in North Sydney, the Perth suburb of Claremont, Auckland, New York, San Francisco and Silicon Valley.
Essential foodstuffs like bread, flour and rice, as well as canned beans and tomatoes, pasta, pasta sauce and water have flown off the shelves as both the COVID-19 pandemic and fears about it spread.
A Sydney North Shore supermarket said rice, flour and toilet paper were the "first to go" and "we can't keep up with" supplies of the goods.
In a Coles supermarket in Claremont WA, a crowd of shoppers on Saturday fought to grab supplies of hand sanitiser, toilet paper, tinned food and bottled water and cram them into trolleys.
So far more than 88,500 people around the world have been infected with COVID-19, with the death toll exceeding 3000.