Panicked Auckland shoppers clear shelves as PM urges calm

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is unconcerned with the latest poll results that indicate a drop in...
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. Photo: RNZ
Panicked shoppers forced the closure of a major food wholesaler today as the Prime Minister urged New Zealanders to go about their daily lives in the wake of the country's first case of coronavirus.

Gilmours was forced to close its North Shore Cash and Carry store due to overwhelming demand from customers. The wholesaler announced on social media its North Shore and Manukau stores will be closed tomorrow and re-open on Monday.

At other supermarkets across Auckland queues were out the door and shelves were stripped of essentials like toilet paper and water. Hand sanitiser has been unavailable at supermarkets for days due to the coronavirus scare.

An Auckland Countdown supermarket was completely out of toilet rolls and bulk bottled water this...
An Auckland Countdown supermarket was completely out of toilet rolls and bulk bottled water this evening. Photo: NZ Herald
A shopper at one Pak'nSave supermarket said it was as if people were "stocking up for the apocalypse".

Earlier, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern told the public to continue with everyday life in the wake of New Zealand's first case of coronavirus being confirmed.

She spoke to media after visiting staff dealing with the outbreak at Auckland's Healthline with Minister of Health David Clark.

Panicked shoppers are flooding supermarkets to buy essentials.

Arden had a simple message for Kiwis.

"If you need a bottle of milk, go and get it. If you don't, do not react in any other way than you would any other day.

"The public should be going about their daily lives."

It was important to remember there was only one confirmed case of Coronavirus in New Zealand and the response had been "text book" in every regard.

The patient is "stable and continuing to improve", Ardern said.

Passengers onboard the flight the patient flew into New Zealand on had no need for concern.

Health Minister David Clark.
Health Minister David Clark.
Anyone who was sitting within two seats in front or behind the passenger on the flight had been contacted, given health information and guidance on what they could do if they presented symptoms.

In regards to comments made by the National Party about an inadequate response by the Government and the health system, Ardern said they were not taking advice from the Opposition but by experts worldwide.

The patient contacted Healthline before heading to the hospital, which was the right plan of action, Arden said.

Throat and nose swabs were conducted on the patient and it was not unusual for false negative responses to come back, hence the reason why the first two tests on the patient came back negative and the third positive.

Yesterday, Healthline received around 1300 calls in regards to Coronavirus.

The Prime Minister said the public should only seek information from the appropriate website, and not taking advice from social media.

Earlier, experts urged the public to remain calm after the first case of Covid-19 coronavirus - a 60-year-old passenger who flew on Emirates Flight EK450 from Iran, via Bali, on Wednesday.

Auckland mayor Phil Goff said yesterday afternoon that health authorities are closely monitoring the situation in line with World Health Organisation guidance.

"I encourage Aucklanders to remain calm. The ministry will advise if any public health measures become necessary."

And University of Otago professor of public health Michael Baker has said people who were on the same flight as the infected person should not be overly worried."It doesn't get transmitted completely throughout the airplane environment. It depends on what symptoms were on the flight."

The lack of confirmed cases to date had given New Zealand time to plan carefully, Baker said, and how the first case was dealt with was "a really nice example of how the [NZ health] system is responding" to the world health emergency.

Health Minister David Clark has announced a raft of new measures to combat the spread of coronavirus, including new travel restrictions from Iran.

The Ministry of Health says there is a high likelihood of sporadic cases in New Zealand but the chances of a community outbreak remains low.


More worried about the mumps "outbreak" at the university.

Thanks New Zealand media. You have done your very best to over-hype a simple virus into an Ebola type scare....And now we pay the price!