Stockpiling because of coronavirus ‘may become rife’, UEA professor warns

Stockpiling because of coronavirus ‘may become rife’, UEA professor Ratula Chakraborty has warned. P

Stockpiling because of coronavirus ‘may become rife’, UEA professor Ratula Chakraborty has warned. Picture: Archant/Ratula Chakraborty - Credit: Archant

Growing fears over the threat coronavirus poses may lead to households stockpiling food and medicine, a professor from the University of East Anglia has warned.

Ratula Chakraborty, professor of business management at the University of East Anglia (UEA), said quarantine measures in other countries, including in Europe, could lead to fears that parts of the UK will also face lockdown.

The comments come as members of the public discussed stockpiling medicines, food, nappies, water and pet food on websites including Mumsnet.

Prof Chakraborty said: "With coronavirus cases increasing and quarantine measures being ramped up, then inevitably some anxious households will begin stocking piling food, medicines and other storable essentials.

"The prospect of whole towns being in lockdown and shops closed is heightening the fear and stockpiling may become rife.

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"One big opportunity for the supermarkets may be home delivery, where online grocery retailers could see a bonanza as consumers shy away from visiting stores and instead prefer to shop from the safety of their own homes."

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In one discussion on Mumsnet, a poster asked if they were being unreasonable "to be considering a small stockpile or supplies because of corona?"

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They added: "I've never done so in my life.

"But reading about the Italian villages that have been put on lockdown and families can't leave their homes has got me thinking...

"Italy isn't a million miles away. It's not a third world country. If it's happened there...

"Maybe just some bottles of water and some tinned goods? Medicines?"

Almost 200 people responded to the message, with most saying they are also stockpiling tinned goods, toilet rolls and other supplies.

One said they were "filling the cupboard with soup, tomatoes, tinned fruit, flour, crackers etc in advance.

"I'll still eat them all, but they last for months anyway, and when people are surging into supermarkets stripping the shelves I won't be adding to the masses worried they won't have enough. I'll be out of the way and not contributing to shortages."

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On Tuesday, an official at the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention warned of the potential for "severe" disruption to daily life in the event of coronavirus becoming a pandemic.

Anne Schuchat, principal deputy director of the CDC, said there was a need for "new strategies".

The CDC has been urging businesses, schools and families to prepare for a possible outbreak of Covid-19 in the US, including potentially allowing employees to work from home and internet-based lessons.

In the UK, England's Chief Medical Officer, Professor Chris Whitty, has said school closures could occur if the virus spreads, while people could be asked to stay at home with their families.

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