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Toilet paper, wet wipe vanish at US stores amid corona scare

Seattle, March 5 (IANS) In reminiscence of a scene straight out of a Hollywood end-of-the-world kind of movie, physical stores like Costcos, Target and even Walmart saw paper napkins, wet wipes, toilet paper, hand sanitisers and disinfectants flying off the shelves as shoppers rushed to stock up daily-use products in the wake of new coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

People also reported less traffic on the road and travel time to the office was down by at least 30 per cent in the city of Amazon and Microsoft.

“Shelves in Costcos are nearly empty. No paper napkins, No disinfectant wet wipes. Fresh food, canned food stock shelves are also nearly empty here,” a Seattle-based techie told IANS.

The US death toll due to COVID-19 has risen to 11, after officials reported fatalities in California and Washington States on Wednesday.

Washington State raised its own death toll from coronavirus to 10. The state now has 39 confirmed cases of COVID-19 disease, with 31 of them in Seattle and King County, reports NPR. There are at least 138 confirmed cases of the virus in the US.

“In Seattle, people are reporting over 24 hour wait times for Prime Now. Instacart still has decent times. Costcos are backing up and toilet paper is starting to vanish from shelves. The panic is setting in. This is the part I fear most panic,” tweeted one person who lives in Seattle.

According to CNBC, Amazon Prime Now and other delivery services were hit with delays as online shopping surged.

“Same-day and next-day delivery services offered by the likes of Amazon, Instacart and Walmart are experiencing delays in some areas of the country as shoppers stock up on items in light of the coronavirus outbreak,” said the report.

As of Wednesday, there were at least 95,000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus worldwide, with at least 3,250 deaths.

“Right on schedule, NYers are panic buying beans and rice. So much so, you can’t get a Prime Now (2-hour) or Amazon Fresh delivery for days. For someone stuck at home, this is inconvenient to say the least,” tweeted a user from New York.

“We are experiencing an increase in demand for Prime Now and are working hard to increase delivery availability,” an Amazon spokesperson was quoted as saying.

The city of Los Angeles declared a health emergency after it confirmed six new cases of the coronavirus and seven overall.

In addition to California and Washington State, other states reporting coronavirus cases include Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Rhode Island, Texas and Wisconsin.

Shoppers are fast snapping up daily items like cleaning supplies, non-perishable foods and even water to prepare for an emergency if one arises.

–IANS

na/skp/

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