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Coronavirus: ‘No need to panic buy’

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‘Antibiotics aren’t effective for treating the coronavirus’

SOUTH Africans have been urged not to start panic buying amidst fears of coronavirus hitting the country.

Supermarket and pharmacy shelves across China have been left bare as people scramble to lay their hands on basic necessities, medicines and foodstuff as fears mount that the coronavirus could drag on.

Panic buying has also set in among Americans, where pharmacies are selling out of face masks. Sellers on Amazon can’t keep up with the demand and say deliveries will be delayed for weeks.

In the UK too, the Brits are stocking up on so-called “panic boxes” where sales of long-life emergency food and drink supplies have spiked by more than 1 200%.

By mid-February, sales of an over-the-counter nasal spray (that powder-coats the nasal membranes, making it difficult for airborne viruses to enter the body) had surged by 688% on Amazon in the UK.

According to Nicole Jennings, spokesperson for Pharma Dynamics – distributor of the nasal spray, called Nexa Shield in South Africa, there is no need for panic buying at this stage.

“Hoarding face masks for example, when one is healthy means that hospitals, clinics and doctors’ rooms – where it is needed most – could run out. There have also been news reports of potential medicine shortages, which have led to panic ordering and buying of antibiotics worldwide, which is unwarranted.

“The widespread anxiety that the coronavirus has caused is understandable, but the situation in South Africa doesn’t call for panic, yet the public needs to be vigilant.

“Antibiotics aren’t effective for treating the coronavirus and should only be used in the case of bacterial infections. Misuse of antibiotics leads to antimicrobial resistance (AMR) – another epidemic, which the health care community are trying to tackle. Life-saving antibiotics should thus be used sparingly and responsibly.

“When antibiotics are prescribed, never share it with someone else who is sick and don’t ever skip a dose. While it’s good to stay up to date with your immunisations, it’s important to note that vaccines against other respiratory diseases, such as pneumonia, won’t offer any protection against the coronavirus.”

Jennings says the best way to reduce one’s risk of contracting the coronavirus is to keep up proper hygiene practices, such as washing hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. “Alternatively, alcohol-based hand sanitisers should be used. Face-to-face contact and crowded environments where germs typically thrive should also be avoided.”

The coronavirus has infected more than 80 000 people globally and claimed nearly 3 000 lives – mostly in China.