Australian shoppers have cleared supermarket shelves of long-life goods amid fears of a worsening coronavirus (Covid-19) crisis, reducing the availability of everyday essentials like toilet paper.

But a leading health expert has labeled the response “disproportionate”, giving hope to those who desperately need a roll of TP for normal everyday use.

Punters nationwide have flooded social media with images of empty toilet paper shelves, the likely result of panic buying as community fears for the coronavirus level up.

Temporary shortages of other goods, like hand sanitiser and long-life milk, have also been reported.

The apparent shortages come after advice from health authorities, who say that anyone who has recently travelled to Australia from Iran or China, and those who have come into contact with anyone confirmed to have Covid-19, ought to self-isolate themselves for fourteen days.

Healthcare and residential aged care workers returning from South Korea and Italy, two other nations with significant Covid-19 outbreaks, have also been advised to avoid work for a fortnight after arriving in Australia.

To date, one Australian man has died of Covid-19. There are 29 confirmed cases in the nation, and the Department of Health states 15 of those people have already recovered.

Despite the tragic loss of life and a growing number of confirmed cases, health experts believe the reaction at supermarkets is out of proportion.

Speaking to ABC Melbourne yesterday, Dr Tony Bartone, president of the Australian Medical Association, said there’s no reason for shoppers to start panic buying in preparation for a national calamity which might not eventuate.

“There’s no reason to go out and panic buy, you know, the almost bunker level materials at this present time,” Dr Bartone said.

While acknowledging there may be hiccups in the global supply chain due to Covid-19, Dr Bartone said “some of the reports and the queues outside of supermarkets completely are disproportionate to the issues at hand.”

So, wash your hands, cover your mouth if you have a cough, engage in a friendly foot shake, and maybe, just maybe, share your dunny rolls with someone who might be needing them, too.

Image: @ajplumley / Twitter