OPINION

  • Mass panic buying is again expected today, as payday brings a new rush of money into South African households before South Africa's lockdown starts.
  • But if you go to crowded stores today, you will exponentially increase your chance of contracting the coronavirus. 
  • South Africa will have enough food to go around - and pharmaceutical production has been ramped up for over-the-counter medicines.
  • For more stories, go to Business Insider's home page.  

The 25th of the month is traditionally payday in South Africa, which usually means a surge in buying across the country.

Judging from the scenes of panic hoarding since South Africa's Covid-19 lockdown was announced, this will be compounded by anxious South Africa rushing to stock their cupboards.

Here’s why you should refrain from panic buying today.

You will increase your risk of contracting the coronavirus

The risk of exposure to the new coronavirus in crowded shops is exponentially higher than going when fewer people are in the store during the lockdown period.

Remember that the coronavirus is three times more infectious as flu.

If you (unknowingly) have the virus yourself, you will be spreading it to older and compromised people who may die from it.

There will be enough food in South Africa

Government has been very firm that all farms and companies involved in food production will operate as usual during the lockdown.

And remember that – unlike many other countries – South Africa produces more than enough food for itself. In fact, we export a lot of it. The only staple foods we don’t really produce is rice and palm oil, and we import about half of the wheat we use. But wheat imports are primarily from countries where exports have not been disrupted due to the coronavirus crisis, says Wandile Sihlobo, chief economist of the Agricultural Business Chamber of South Africa.

See our Covid-19 update, with everything we know about the disease in South Africa

“South Africa also imports poultry products and sunflower oil; but these are products that can be replaced by local supplies, should there be disruptions in global supply chains.”

Also, agricultural conditions are looking promising for an abundant harvest of staple grains and fruit this year, which will increase the local supplies, he adds.

“South Africa has ample food supplies for 2020, and therefore, there is no need for panic buying.”

The production of over-the-counter medicines has been ramped up 

Last week, Aspen, the largest South African pharmaceutical company, announced that it is increasing production of its over–the-counter pain, respiratory, and colds-and-flu medicines

“We want to tell people to remain calm. We have large factories, there will be enough supplies in South Africa. Our supply chain is robust, we have a lot of stock,” Aspen Group CEO Stephen Saad said.

A trip to the shop will be the best part of your day, in a week’s time

During the lockdown, most South Africans will only be allowed out to go do grocery shops. Don’t deny yourself this future chance to escape from your family by spending all your money today.

Don't be that person

Panic buying will create shortages for those who can’t afford to stock up.

If you have the means to buy up and hoard food, healthcare products, and toilet paper, you are denying others who may not have enough money to afford multiple trips to different shops to find desperately-needed products. 

Empty shelves will also hit healthcare and other workers who don't have a lot of time to shop around.

See also | You can walk your dog and jog: everything we know about the reality of SA Covid-19 shutdown

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