Coronavirus prep: Hand sanitizers fly off shelves

Coronavirus prep: Hand sanitizers fly off shelves
Shopper stocks on supplies at Xtra Value Grocery Store Saturday
  • Super Value, Lowe’s run low on stock of sanitizers

  • Foreign Affairs strongly discourages non-essential travel to risk areas

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Public concerns about the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) to the United States has prompted shoppers to begin preparing for the potential outbreak of the virus in The Bahamas.

The Ministry of Health advised Monday afternoon there have been no confirmed or suspected cases of the virus in the country.

Stores, including Super Value and Lowe’s Pharmacy, confirmed to Eyewitness News that hand sanitizers have flown off the shelves in the last couple of days.

A representative of Lowe’s Pharmacy said the pharmacy had sold out of hand sanitizer as of Monday.

Rupert Roberts, the owner of Super Value, told Eyewitness News the stock of hand sanitizers across the 13 stores in New Providence had all but run out, including the 67-ounce bottles.

He said: “I would say in just about every store they’re completely emptied [of most hand sanitizers].”

He also noted an increased uptick in sales of hand soaps.

Roberts said he has instructed the store’s buyer to order three months’ worth of inventory from suppliers in anticipation of the public rush for certain items.

However, he said even Super Value’s suppliers were in “short supply”.

“We might get half of what we ordered. They say they are in short supply.

“The agent for Lysol spray says they are giving them another container and that’s it.

“They can’t get anymore. The US has sold out. I understand panic buying has started in Florida.

“You can still get wipes.”

Roberts added that he expects bottled water, facial tissue, bathroom tissue, and other cleaning products to “really move out”.

The food store franchise intends to send a notice to each of its stores concerning increased safety precautions and practices in response to the healthcare concern.

Thousands of customers pass through Super Value’s doors every day.

Roberts also advised there is a standard policy in all stores for cashiers to sanitize every hour, and areas of public contact are cleaned periodically.

He said with the threat of the virus, presently spreading in the United States, the food stores franchise has ramped up these practices as it has done in the past with public health concerns from SARS to Ebola.

“We have our cashiers sanitize their hands every hour; we sanitize our front door handles — anywhere that the public touches — we sanitize every hour,” Roberts said.

“We have always been doing it.

“…We are taking every precaution that we can think of [as] we always have. And every time we see a health tip come out, we jump on it and do it.”

Keith Roberts, a father of one, said he began preparing over the weekend, stocking up on surgical N-95 masks, bottled water, infant formula, food, and sanitization supplies.

“I have 12 five-gallon waters,” he told Eyewitness News.

“I am stocking up on one-gallon bottles as well.

“I’ve been researching what kind of masks to get, checking all the N-95 masks and ordering online.

“I found the N-95 masks, but [hardware store] ran out of them last Friday.

Travel and proximity

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs advised the public to take special precautions, including practicing basic personal hygiene, especially when traveling to minimize exposure and reduce the chance of contracting the virus.

The ministry strongly discouraged non-essential travel to high-risk countries and advised that people who must travel should expect to be routinely screened and tested; if necessary, quarantined for up to 14 days in those jurisdictions; and additional screening upon return to The Bahamas.

Health officials said Sunday The Bahamas is prepared to sufficiently respond to protect residents against the threat of the virus.

Dominican Republic reported its first case of the Coronavirus Sunday.

As of Monday, the death toll in the United States rose to six, including four elderly residents from a nursing home in Washington.

There have been 88 confirmed and presumptive positive cases of the Coronavirus in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

In a release Monday, the CDC said Americans should prepare for the possibility a COVID-19 outbreak in their community.

“Community-based interventions such as school dismissals, event cancellations, social distancing and creating employee plans to work remotely can help slow the spread of COVID-19,”

“Individuals can practice everyday prevention measures like frequent hand washing, staying home when sick, and covering coughs and sneezes.”

United States President Donald Trump has said the situation is “well under control”.

There have been more than 85,000 cases confirmed worldwide.

Just under 3,000 people have died, while another 42,112 have recovered.