Africans rushed to stock up on Covid-19 prevention supplies

Africans rushed to stock up on Covid-19 prevention supplies 3

`It’s like everyone is preparing for war,` said a shop owner at a market in the capital Kigali, the East African country of Rwanda, expressing surprise as he saw people wearing masks and gloves fighting over each other.

He said the price of Tanzanian rice has increased from 27,000 francs ($29) to 30,000 francs per 25 kg bag, while the price of Pakistani rice has increased from 22,000 francs ($23) to 28,000 francs.

`The price has increased but they still buy,` he added, declining to reveal his name for fear of market inspectors.

A seller wears a mask at the Kimironko market, capital Kigali, Rwanda on March 17.

Initially, Africa seemed immune when Covid-19 broke out in China.

More than 400 cases of nCoV infection have been recorded in at least 30 African countries, including 7 cases in Rwanda.

`Rich people don’t mind high prices. They buy things in large quantities,` said Pascal Murengezi, 43, a man with three children who sells used clothes in front of Nyarugenge market in Kigali.

`If the epidemic continues, I don’t know how I will sell clothes on empty streets,` Murengezi said.

Rwanda’s Minister of Trade on March 16 announced the listing of prices of 17 staple foods, including rice, sugar and cooking oil, but did not indicate penalties for those who pushed prices.

Beatrice, 52, an unemployed woman with one child, said she can only buy the minimum amount of rice.

`You can’t watch your child go hungry,` Beatrice said.

Kenya, an economic powerhouse in East Africa, also witnessed people `raiding` supermarkets after reporting the first case of nCoV infection on March 13.

Tusky’s, another supermarket in Kenya, urged customers not to panic and this week launched a home delivery service.

Africans rushed to stock up on Covid-19 prevention supplies

Health workers disinfect the residential area where Kenya’s first person infected with nCoV lives, in the town of Rongai near the capital Nairobi, on March 14.

Like Rwanda, Kenya has taken measures to stabilize commodity prices.

`The recent events were unacceptable and we are very sorry,` Veronica Wambui, head of sales and marketing, said in a company statement posted on Twitter.

From South Africa to Senegal, people lined up outside stores to stock up on things like sanitizer and pasta.

`It’s crazy. There’s almost nothing left on the shelves,` retired Barbara Ollerman, 68, said as she loaded rice into a cart at Woolworths supermarket in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Sihle Qalinge, a cashier at a nearby Checkers supermarket, said she had to sneak away from the counter to buy toilet paper.

Anna, a supermarket manager in the capital Dakar, Senegal, said sales have doubled since last weekend.

`The most bought item is pasta, everyone has bought it all!`, she said, adding that prices remained the same, although many desperate customers did not care much.

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