Videos posted on social media show people in Sydney hurriedly buying essential items such as toilet paper, leaving empty shelves in some supermarkets.
According to one video, a delivery of toilet paper in one Woolworths supermarket store in Sydney ran out of stock in just 90 seconds.
The Sydney Morning Herald reported that other items in great demand include packaged snacks, pasta, rice and canned goods.
It found that 84 toilet paper products, 104 types of packaged snacks and 63 kinds of canned goods were out-of-stock across nine Woolworths shops in the city.
A spokesman for Woolworths said: “We’ve seen a sharp increase in demand for long-life pantry items and household staples in recent days, which has led to partial stock shortages across some of our stores.”
“We’ve been working closely with our suppliers to ramp-up deliveries and production to maintain stock availability for our customers,” he added.
A spokeswoman for Coles, another supermarket chain, said that like many other retailers it currently has a shortage of “some antibacterial hand-washes and hand sanitiser products” because of high demand.
Scott Morrison, the Australian prime minister, said in a press conference: “I spoke to both Coles and Woolworths, just to get an update on their arrangements, and I appreciate their response and the steps they are taking to assure people and their own customers”
Mr Morrison added that Australians are “common sense people”, praising those who have self-isolated after returning from affected countries abroad.
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