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Coronavirus Australia: Toilet paper hoarding returns

There is still time to correct this toilet paper madness. Again. 

Surely the Melburnians who have stripped bare the supermarket shelves of toilet paper over the past two days are those who still haven’t recovered from going without during those dark days as Australia moved towards lockdown. 

Those buyers could well be people like me – who in March, as the nation went bonkers buying up toilet paper – just quietly watched, puzzled as to what was driving them.

I just didn’t get it.  

Wyndham supermarkets – on the fringes of COVID hotspot Brimbank – have been hit by shoppers worried about toilet paper supplies 

An ALDI supermarket in Werribee was beginning to get depressing on Wednesday

An ALDI supermarket in Werribee was beginning to get depressing on Wednesday 

Signs are back up telling Victorians they can only buy two packages of toilet paper

Signs are back up telling Victorians they can only buy two packages of toilet paper 

COVID-19 testing staff are seen at a pop-up site at Keilor Community Hub in Melbourne's west

COVID-19 testing staff are seen at a pop-up site at Keilor Community Hub in Melbourne’s west

I still don’t know what drives the madness now – but I wish I hadn’t just sat back and waited for the lines in the supermarkets to shorten in March.

The empty toilet paper scenes I’d read about were what I soon faced at my local shops. By the time my family actually finished the toilet paper we already had in our house, it was all gone down at the supermarket. 

I felt like a right idiot when my mum brought me around packs of napkins so we wouldn’t have to resort to wiping our bums with gum leaves. 

We all know how it progressed from there. Soon no one could buy pasta, mince, rice, or flour. 

You couldn’t get any of it – the shelves were stripped bare.  

At the time, I cracked the sads and wrote a similar piece declaring Australians could no longer use the term unAustralian. 

Bad behaviour has just become Australian. 

That was March 20 and we were all in unfamiliar territory as we felt as if the end of the world was upon us. 

Move forward to June 24 and you’d think we’d all got a little bit wiser. 

Well, the jury is out. 

COVID-19 testing staff are seen at a pop-up site at Keilor Community Hub in Melbourne's west on Wednesday

COVID-19 testing staff are seen at a pop-up site at Keilor Community Hub in Melbourne’s west on Wednesday 

Woolworths at Werribee Pacific - known as The Plaza by locals - had signs telling people they could only buy two packets of toilet paper

Woolworths at Werribee Pacific – known as The Plaza by locals – had signs telling people they could only buy two packets of toilet paper 

Australians have been warned to stay away from six council in Melbourne: Hume, Casey and Brimbank, Moreland, Cardinia and Darebin

Australians have been warned to stay away from six council in Melbourne: Hume, Casey and Brimbank, Moreland, Cardinia and Darebin

On Tuesday, I wrote an article for Daily Mail Australia stating that people were beginning to stockpile toilet paper. 

Naturally skeptical readers were quick to label the report ‘fake news’ – and blast the media for inciting people to panic buy. 

But what they didn’t know is I’d had travelled across Melbourne – from west to east – watching nervously as trolley after trolley in supermarket after supermarket was filled with the stuff. 

‘This is just people buying their usual supplies,’ I tried to kid myself. 

VICTORIA’S COVID-19 CASES

20 new cases in the last 24 hours

696,263 tested

141 active cases

20 Victorians dead 

When I woke up on Wednesday, it was to radio news reports that nervous shoppers had stripped a supermarket in Melbourne’s west of toilet paper. 

I hit the streets myself to checkout the situation. 

As we moved through the fringes of Melbourne’s so-called ‘COVID hot zones’, we saw trolleys of toilet paper leaving the supermarkets. 

Sure, no-one was walking out with their trolley jam packed with it, but you had to wonder if people who had previously been left without bog roll last time were taking preventative action.

A drive through Wyndham – in Melbourne’s west – did not give me confidence that all was well. 

Wyndham recorded two new active cases of COVID-19 on Monday and during the initial outbreak was rocked when it broke out at its hospital. 

Shops had toilet paper, but supplies were thin.  

Again, ordinary people were buying it up. Package after package. 

By Wednesday afternoon, Coles and Woolworths had brought back the dreaded restrictions on buying everyday staples, including toilet paper. 

Woolworths in Werribee was beginning to get low on toilet paper on Wednesday

Woolworths in Werribee was beginning to get low on toilet paper on Wednesday 

People wearing masks are seen in Keilor Downs, in Melbourne's west, on Wednesday as fears of a return to March conditions rises across the state

People wearing masks are seen in Keilor Downs, in Melbourne’s west, on Wednesday as fears of a return to March conditions rises across the state 

Panic buying has also returned, with Coles and Woolworths reinstating purchase limits on toilet paper and other items

Panic buying has also returned, with Coles and Woolworths reinstating purchase limits on toilet paper and other items

VICTORIA CALLS IN THE ARMY AS CASES SPIKE

Victoria has called in the military and asked other states for help as it struggles to contain a surge in coronavirus cases.

The state has had 128 new cases of COVID-19 in the past week, with 20 cases and a death recorded on Wednesday.

Victoria’s active cases have jumped from 58 to 143 in the past eight days, while the rest of the country combined has only had 20.

The Australian Defence Force, as well as NSW, South Australia, Tasmania and Queensland have been enlisted.

“This support will mean we can get even more tests done and results back quickly – and a stronger effort to remind Victorians if you are sick, stay home and get tested,” a government spokeswoman said in a statement.

It’s understood Victoria has requested about 500 ADF personnel, who will assist with emergency management, logistics and hotel quarantine, with further details to be worked out.

At least 33 staff working at quarantine hotels have been infected with COVID-19 and health officials are investigating links between the workers and other outbreaks.

Currently, 30 people in hotel quarantine have the virus.

A spokesman for Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the federal health and defence departments were working with Emergency Management Australia to “to expedite a request for assistance from Victoria”.

Tasmanian Premier Peter Gutwein said the state would provide Victoria with up to 300 COVID-19 tests daily.

It comes as community engagement in the local government areas of Brimbank, Casey, Cardinia, Darebin, Hume and Moreland has ramped up after they were identified as coronavirus hotspots.

The areas consist of large migrant populations, with many speaking languages other than English at home.

Coronavirus advice in Pacific Islander languages was published only four days ago.

Members of Melbourne’s Pacific Islander community, many of whom live in Brimbank, have felt frustrated by the lack of native language information and have requested it for months.

The Department of Health and Human Services confirmed that coronavirus information in Pacific Island languages such as Tongan, Samoan and Cook Islands Maori, was first published on June 20.

“There was nothing,” Pasifika Community Organisation president Tonya Helu told AAP.

“We felt discriminated … we didn’t have anything.”

Victorian Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton said engaging with linguistically diverse communities was not as simple as handing out translated pamphlets.

“You do need that community leadership, community champions, and all of the modes and methods available to you,” he said on Wednesday.

He said conspiracy theories on social media had not helped.

“There are people who use social media from their country of origin or amongst their network of friends as their primary source of information,” Professor Sutton said.

Information about the virus has been translated into 55 languages but Health Minister Jenny Mikakos conceded the government has to “work harder to reach these people”.

A Victorian man in his 80s is Australia’s first coronavirus death in over a month, bringing the state’s death toll to 20 and nationally to 103.

Of the state’s 20 new cases on Wednesday, nine were identified through routine testing, seven are linked to known outbreaks and one is a returned traveller in hotel quarantine. Three cases remain under investigation.

Three people have been linked to a Keilor Downs family cluster, two are staff members at Hampstead Dental in Maidstone, one case has been linked to Northland H&M and another has been linked to St Monica’s college at Epping.

Since the spike in new cases, drive-through testing sites have experienced extremely high demand, with four hour-long waits at some sites and people turned away at others.

Panic buying has also returned, with Coles and Woolworths reinstating purchase limits on toilet paper and other items.

The state’s total number of infections is 1884.

– Australian Associated Press 

An additional 20 cases of COVID-19 were confirmed. 

On Tuesday, an 80-year-old man had died from COVID-19 in Victoria. Interstate premiers have declared they don’t want us and now we’re turning on our own. 

Three caravan parks on the Great Ocean Road announced they would cancel bookings from travellers who reside in Melbourne COVID-19 hotspots – before retracting the ban. 

An ‘army’ of hundreds of public health workers have hit the streets of the six local government areas identified as coronavirus hotspots.

They’re supposedly talking with families and reminding them that they must get tested and stay home if they are unwell. All well and good, but they also fuel fear.

Meanwhile, the real life army, Australian Defence Force, is being sent to try and help Victoria tackle the increase in coronavirus cases. 

A supermarket in Taylor's Hill in Melbourne's west was left practically empty on Wednesday

A supermarket in Taylor’s Hill in Melbourne’s west was left practically empty on Wednesday 

Department of Health and Human Services Victoria community engagement team members  speaks with a Sunshine resident in Melbourne's west on Wednesday

Department of Health and Human Services Victoria community engagement team members  speaks with a Sunshine resident in Melbourne’s west on Wednesday

Getting tested has become a nightmare, with people waiting hours. 

As if Melbourne in winter isn’t depressing enough as it is. 

It’s cold, it’s dark and the only good thing about it is usually going to the footy or sitting by the fire at a pub with mates watching the footy. 

Yeah, forget that. 

If you don’t have central heating at home, jumping out of bed to travel to your home office is just miserable. 

The thought of going into another full-on lockdown is just hard to imagine. 

But imagine we must.  

We had been – it seems now – kidding ourselves that the worst of this lockdown was behind us. 

We’d been given a glimmer of hope with restrictions to be eased this week. 

Just like that it was taken away. 

And now we sit back and read stories about people panic buying again. 

Restrictions, sanitising, fear of what lies ahead and for how much longer now. 

Family who broke public health restrictions by celebrating Muslim festival caused one of Victoria’s biggest COVID-19 clusters 

By Alana Mazzoni

One of Victoria’s biggest coronavirus clusters came from a Muslim family who broke public health orders to celebrate the end of the holy month.

The state has had 128 new cases of COVID-19 in the past week, with 20 cases and a death recorded on Wednesday. 

A gathering in Coburg, north of the city, last month has been linked to at least 14 cases across multiple households.

The party was to celebrate Eid – the end of the Muslim holy month on the weekend of May 23 and 24.  

All attendees were in breach of Victoria’s lockdown measures, which at the time prohibited households from having more than five guests.   

Health Department spokes­man said the contact-tracing process relating to the ­Coburg family cluster is ongoing.

Cultural confusion over the lifting of lockdown measures may have resulted in a second wave of coronavirus infections in Melbourne. Pictured are shoppers in Broadmeadows

Cultural confusion over the lifting of lockdown measures may have resulted in a second wave of coronavirus infections in Melbourne. Pictured are shoppers in Broadmeadows

A woman who was tested at Pakenham Medical Clinic in Melbourne’s southeast on June 10, and returned a positive result three days later, is believed to have contracted the virus at the Coburg gathering.

A receptionist from the clinic told The Australian that the doctor who treated the patient remained in quarantine and hasn’t tested positive.

It’s believed the woman’s two children from Pakenham Springs Primary School, who tested positive, are part of the same cluster.

There are currently five active cases in Cardinia Shire, which includes Pakenham.  

Brimbank, Casey, Cardinia, Darebin, Hume and Moreland were identified as coronavirus hotspots.

The areas consist of large migrant populations, with many speaking languages other than English at home. 

Islamic Council of Victoria vice-president Adel Salman said he heard speculation about large gatherings within the Muslim community, but said there was no proof of links to new cases.

‘By and large, I think the Muslim community has been exemplary,’ Mr Salman said.

It comes amid concerns that cultural confusion over the lifting of lockdown restrictions contributed to the fresh outbreak in Melbourne.  

Victoria's active cases have jumped from 58 to 143 in the past eight days, while the rest of the country combined has only had 20. Testing staff are seen at a pop-up site at Keilor Community Hub on Wednesday

Victoria’s active cases have jumped from 58 to 143 in the past eight days, while the rest of the country combined has only had 20. Testing staff are seen at a pop-up site at Keilor Community Hub on Wednesday 

Of the state's 20 new cases on Wednesday, nine were identified through routine testing

Of the state’s 20 new cases on Wednesday, nine were identified through routine testing

Someone called what’s going on at the moment ‘idiot buying’ because we’ve all been here before. 

We know the shops will remain open and we know we will be allowed to go outside and buy what we need, when we need it. 

But do you think I went and picked up one of those 36 package rolls of dunny paper while I was out on the job yesterday? 

You bet I did. 

And if I bought another pack today I’d be an idiot. 

I’ve got to think that the shelves are being stripped by ordinary folk like me who sat back previously and believed we were a civilised nation. 

That’s not panic buying. That’s idiot insurance, isn’t it?  

Now we sit back and watch what happens. 

Drive-through testing sites have experienced extremely high demand, with four hour-long waits at some sites and people turned away at others. Testing staff are seen at a pop-up site at Keilor Community Hub

Drive-through testing sites have experienced extremely high demand, with four hour-long waits at some sites and people turned away at others. Testing staff are seen at a pop-up site at Keilor Community Hub

CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC – THE LATEST 

LATEST DEVELOPMENTS

* Australia has recorded its first coronavirus death in a month after a Victorian man in his 80s died from the disease, bringing the national tally to 103.

* Victoria has recorded 20 new cases on Wednesday, 10 in NSW – excluding one previously reported case.

* Nearly 70 per cent of people who died from coronavirus in Australia had pre-existing conditions such as hypertension, dementia and diabetes.

* Australian Defence Force personnel are to be sent to Melbourne to help while Victoria has ramped up testing to 20,000 people per day.

* Meanwhile, Coles and Wooloworths have been forced to reinstate purchasing limits on essential items, including toilet paper, amid renewed panic buying.

ECONOMICS

* Two thirds of businesses have collected less revenue than this time last year due to coronavirus restrictions, new ABS data shows.

* Australia has maintained its AAA debt issuer credit rating with the big three global ratings agencies.

SPORT

* The AFL is set to announce Perth as the next hub on Thursday, with Collingwood and Geelong to join West Coast and Fremantle for a block of games at Optus Stadium.

* Essendon player Conor McKenna returned another negative virus test on Tuesday night after testing positive last week.

EASING OF RESTRICTIONS

* The national cabinet has a three-phase plan to ease restrictions in the coming weeks and months. It’s up to states and territories to determine when to ease them.

KEY DATES

* JUNE 26 – Tasmania to shift to stage three restrictions, lifting indoor and outdoor gathering limits but keeping homes to 20 visits. Also back on is community sport, contact training and casinos, gaming and markets are to reopen.

* JUNE 27 – WA to lift all gathering and venue patron limits but a two square metre rule will remain.

* JUNE 29 – SA to move to stage three of lifting virus restrictions and large venues like Adelaide Oval will be allowed up to 50 per cent normal capacity.

* JULY 1 – NSW resumes community sport and will scrap a 50-person cap on indoor venues. Nationally, sporting venues with 40,000 seats will be allowed up to 25 per cent capacity

* JULY 10 – Queensland to reopen borders dependent on case numbers

* JULY 12 – Victoria to ease limits from 20 to 50 people at restaurants, cafes and pubs

* JULY 17 – NT to reopen its borders

* July 18 – WA to lift all remaining virus restrictions except border closures.

* JULY 20 – SA to open its borders to NSW, VIC and the ACT.

* Late July – Tasmania likely to open its borders

AUSTRALIAN CORONAVIRUS NUMBERS

* Australia has recorded 7521 cases on Wednesday with 494 still active and no cases in SA, Tasmania, ACT or the NT.

* The national death toll is 103: NSW 50, Victoria 20, Tasmania 13, WA 9, Queensland 6, SA 4, ACT 3. (Two Qld residents who died in NSW have been included in the official tolls of both states).

GLOBAL CORONAVIRUS NUMBERS

* Cases: at least 9,361,469

* Deaths: at least 479,910

* Recovered: at least 5,047,420

Data current as of 1730 AEST June 24, taking in federal government and state/territory government updates, the Johns Hopkins virus tracker and Worldometer.

 – Australian Associated Press

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


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