Shoppers are going on panic buying sprees over fears of the coronavirus. People in England, Japan, Singapore and Australia are emptying supermarket shelves of toilet paper, face masks, hand sanitiser and dried food. Governments have told people there is no need to "panic buy". They added that panic buying would reduce the supply of products needed by medical staff, which could exacerbate the problems the COVID-19 virus is causing. Videos of shoppers in Australia fighting over the last pack of toilet roll in a supermarket have gone viral across social media.
A psychologist said panic buying is an "irrational" behaviour. It is part of a condition called FOMO - the fear of missing out. A "herd mentality" sets in during disasters that makes people copy each other. People see items being bought in bulk and immediately rush to the stores to do the same. People are overestimating the risk of dying from the coronavirus. A doctor said "far more" people die in car accidents but we don't panic about this when we go to work. Singapore's prime minister reassured Singaporeans that: "We have ample supplies. There's no need to stock up."