February 7, 2020

HONG KONG: So I saw this piece on coronavirus panic in Hong Kong and reached out to a friend who’s lived there for a long time. His response:

There’s a bit of panic going on.

Park N Shop (grocery store) opens at 8 a.m.
[REDACTED] (my wife) was there at 8:01 – dozens of people there already.
Manager restricted purchases of toilet paper and tissue paper to two each.
A fight breaks out in that area – plenty of profanity, etc.
The store was sold out at 8:02.

My wife went to the hardware store as they were getting some in this morning.
They were charging US$20 for 20 masks.
Apparently the first person in the shop bought out the entire stock – leaving none for anyone who came to the store.

Meanwhile, a head of lettuce is now up to HK$20 a head ( about US$2.75).

People are worried that the new border restrictions will stop shipments of food products and paper products.
We have enough food for the family to last 4 to 6 weeks without going to the store – same with paper products.
But many live in very small flats (average size of 400 sq. ft) – so no real ability to store a lot of supplies on a regular basis.

Grocery stores tend to stock just-in-time; so any type of run means that they run out almost immediately.

As to masks, I received my lai see from our company this week. It was a pack of 20 masks – apparently they were sourced from Korea.

Last week when in Squaw Valley for Chinese New Year, we checked grocery stores and drug stores in Tahoe City – sold out.
Checked Walmart and CVS in Rocklin (north of Sacramento) – sold out.
Checked Walmart in Dixon (south of Davis) – sold out.
We did get a few masks from a hardware store in the area where they sell masks for painting, sanding, etc.
And of course none in the four drug stores we checked in San Francisco.

A friend of mine who used to live in Hong Kong and now lives in Phoenix told me he is getting requests from HK friends to mail them masks.

His local CVS got a truck with them in today. Kept up by the pharmacist. Will be gone by tomorrow or Sunday.
He will mail 180 masks to HK tomorrow.

I can make a mask last a week, as only wear it when entering / exiting a building (it is an N95 reusable mask).
Don’t wear one in my office or at home.

My father-in-law said that as long as you are not within 4 feet of someone, you should be safe.
With the streets relatively empty, I can walk to and from work without encountering others for the most part if I choose the right path.

So there you have it firsthand.

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