Even as the authorities ruled out possibilities of shortage of essentials, panic-stricken citizens and residents are rushing to malls and supermarkets to stock up essential items. Most hypermarkets, supermarkets and small shops in the city have been witnessing brisk sale since the reports of cases relating to the novel coronavirus started pouring in the Sultanate. Dr Rashid bin Salem al Masrouri, CEO of the Public Authority for Warehousing and Food Reserve, assured that there will not be any shortage and that measures are in place for supply of essentials in the governorates.
While allaying the fears of the public, he said, “There will be enough supply of basic food items in malls and other distribution centres. There is no need for worries as measures are being taken to tackle any shortage.” He said that the authority, in cooperation with various government agencies and the private sector, has been working out strategies to ensure stocks in the market. He said an action plan has been prepared to cope with various emergency situations within the framework of its scope of work. Still customers were seen stocking up on bottled water, bread, rice, cooking oil, vegetables and other food items throughout the day.
“It worries me a great deal. Although the government authorities are working in full swing to contain the contagion, I fear there will be a shortage of essentials,” Nasser Al Wahaibi from Muscat told the Observer. The rush to buy food and cleaning products comes as some shoppers said they were concerned that the shutdown of the border would impact the supply of products. Nelson George, who took a few hours of leave from his office for shopping, said, “People are slightly scared. I don’t see any problem in stocking some extra food items. Any way, it won’t be going waste.” Even more scarier is the stockpiling of masks and sanitisers, he said.
“Everybody is really worried. I think everyone is afraid of what is going to happen in the next few days,” he said. While admitting there is an increase in the number of customers to his outlet, Faisal Ahmed, an executive with a leading hypermarket chain, said other than food items, people are also buying bacterial soap and sanitisers. “As such there is no shortage of essentials till now. We have enough stocks. Panic buying is not a new phenomenon as people don’t want to take any chances. There’s no indication that supplies will stop in the coming weeks,” he said. At the same time, experts warn against panic buying and hoarding of products such as food items, water and medications.
“It’s a good idea to be prepared. It makes sense to fill your cupboards with non-perishable food items, so that you do not need to go shopping if you become sick, but it is also important not to buy more than you really need,” said Angel Gomez, a dietician.
SOURCE : OMANDAILYOBSERVER