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Crazy things people are doing because of coronavirus

Tuesday March 10 2020

A man holds packages of traditional herbs, claimed to help to fight the COVID-19 coronavirus

A man holds packages of traditional herbs, claimed to help to fight the COVID-19 coronavirus, at a market in Yogyakarta, Indonesia on March 4, 2020. PHOTO | OKA HAMIED | AFP 

NASIBO KABALE
By NASIBO KABALE
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It feels like doomsday in some parts of the world given the bizarre reactions and panic that the coronavirus epidemic has elicited.

Experts are now warning that this panic is proving to be a major concern, at times even bigger than the disease itself, as it has triggered exaggerated reactions -- some of which have led to death.

The reactions are so widespread that the urban dictionary now has a word for this feeling -- the coronapocalypse -- described as the end of the world via coronavirus.

People wearing characters clothes of local hero
People wearing characters clothes of local hero Gundala (left) and Batman (right) offer Indonesian traditional herbal drinks “Jamu” to motorists as they encourage them to stay healthy and fight COVID-19 in Solo on March 4, 2020. PHOTO | AFP

Here's a list of strange happenings from around the globe triggered by the coronavirus outbreak.

PANIC PLANE

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In the US, a United Airlines plane headed from Eagle, Colorado, to Newark, New Jersey, was diverted on Sunday afternoon to Denver's international airport.

Reason? An individual who was coughing and sneezing caused panic in a small group of people who raised a ruckus over fears that the passenger may be sick with the virus.

The incident forced the plane to change course.

But, as it turns out, the sneezing passenger simply had allergies, with the airline saying the incident "was in no way a medical situation."

The sneezy passenger was evaluated and allowed to stay on the flight.

FACE MASK, SANITISER HOARDING

There is a worldwide shortage of face masks, with people hoarding them despite assurances by health workers that they may not be effective in preventing the general public from catching coronavirus.

In the US, Americans have been buying face masks and sanitisers at rates that are beating supply after fears of the virus hit the country.

According to Nielsen data, sales for medical face masks in the country jumped 319 per cent in the period ended on February 22.

As demand for face masks soars internationally, the Kenyan government has banned local manufacturers from cashing in on the trend after it stopped the export of surgical masks.

According to the Kenya Medical Supplies Authority (Kemsa), the move will ensure that the country has enough stocks as part of its emergency plan.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has called on governments to increase manufacturing of personal protective equipment (PPE) by 40 per cent to meet rising global demand.

TOILET PAPER BRAWLS

Panic buying in a time of coronavirus is not just limited to face masks and medicine. There are several reported incidents of toilet paper shortages around the world.

In fact, a video of three women fighting over toilet paper in Australia has gone viral, and is just one among strange reactions that has led many to view how coronavirus has altered day-to-day life as apocalyptic.

In the video, the trio can been seen grabbing each other, exchanging blows, and then blaming each other for starting the tissue brawl.

The toilet paper problem is not unique to Australia -- a similar situation has been seen in worse-affected places such as Singapore, Japan and Hong Kong.

Just last month, armed robbers stole pallets in Hong Kong following panic-buying induced shortages there.

There are reports of toilet paper buy-ups in the UK, forcing supermarkets to impose restrictions on purchases of certain goods to avoid panic buying.

ALCOHOL POISONING

In one of the most bizarre reactions to the epidemic, people in Iran’s southwestern Khuzestan province drank industrial-grade ethanol and methanol in a misguided effort to protect themselves from infection.

Coronavirus is tearing through the country, leading to rumours that drinking alcohol will kill the virus.

This has led to devastating effects: 14 people are now dead over alcohol poisoning as hospitals see an increase in similar cases.

HOSPITAL RUN

Health workers at a Makueni facility are said to have scampered for safety when police officers brought in five critically ill Chinese patients last month.

They suspected the people may have had coronavirus, thus choosing to leave the five and dozen more patients unattended.

Sources said the five are workers at Sinohydro Corporation, the firm building the Kibwezi-Kitui Road, even though the county health chief officer refuted the claims.

JAIL BREAK

Italy, the hardest hit by coronavirus outside of China, has resorted to locking down the whole country.

Cases of the virus have been confirmed in all 20 Italian regions, with infections increasing to 9,172 on Tuesday, up from 7,375 on Sunday.

Weddings and funerals were banned and travel restricted. However, one measure imposed on Italian prisons has led to deadly consequences.

After authorities suspended family visits to prisoners, protests and riots broke out in several prisons over the weekend, beginning on Saturday in Salerno near Naples, where about 200 detainees vandalised the first floor of the building before barricading themselves on the roof.

Inmates stage a protest on a rooftop of a wing
Inmates stage a protest on a rooftop of a wing at the San Vittore prison in Milan on March 9, 2020, in one of Italy's quarantine red zones. Inmates in four Italian prisons have revolted over new rules introduced to contain the coronavirus outbreak, leaving one prisoner dead and others injured. PHOTO | MIGUEL MEDINA | AFP

Six inmates are so far reported dead from the clashes. Prison administration sources have also reported overdoses following a break into a prison sickbay.

On Monday, there was a prison break attempt in Foggia, in the southern region of Apulia, where dozens of people managed to escape.