Richmondites stocking up amid coronavirus pandemic fears

Shoppers were departing Richmond’s Costco on Friday with carts stacked to the brim with groceries, all because of fears over the spread of coronavirus.

After hearing reports of people panic-buying at the Bridgeport Road store, the Richmond News turned up to speak to customers as they left with their carts piled high.

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All but two of the 15 we spoke to said they were stocking up in case in the wake of Canada’s health minister advising people to do so, in the event they have to self-isolate because of the virus (COVID-19).

When the News went into Costco, shopping carts were overflowing with cooking oil, rice, meat, toilet paper and flour and the meat and rice shelves were almost empty or getting bare.

One Richmond resident, who only gave her last name as Du, told the News they bought toilet paper, paper towels, rice, eggs, lots of meat and vegetables because of the minister’s advice.

However, she’s still concerned her mountain of groceries won’t be enough to sustain her family-of-seven for a week.

“I have been following coronavirus-related News recently. I think it’s better to take proper precautions just in case,” said Du.

“If the virus suddenly hits where you live, the last place you want to be is in line at an overcrowded grocery store.”

Du added that most of her friends were also out buying much more than they normally would.

Another shopper, who would only give her name as Liu, said the store almost ran out of instant noodles and rice and she’s worried about a supply shortage across the Lower Mainland.

“This is the first time I saw so many people shopping in stores. Bottles of water, packaged eggs and toilet paper are flying off shelves within a second,” said Liu.

“I have got two children at home, so it’s good to stock up with things before everyone (starts panicking) about the coronavirus and (swarms) the store. But I am a bit worried, if the virus outbreak turns into a global pandemic, local stores and suppliers might struggle to keep up with the demand.”

The News has reached out to Costco in Richmond to find out if, indeed, their stocks are running low.

By Friday, COVID-19 had infected 84,174 people around the world and killed 2,876, mostly in China, where the virus originated late last year.

Seven people have been diagnosed with the disease inB.C., five of whom are in the Vancouver Coastal Health region, which includes Richmond.

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