(JAMAICA GLEANER) – Minutes after the first case of COVID-19 was confirmed in Jamaica, a crush of shoppers swarmed pharmacies in Kingston in the hunt for sanitisation agents and safety gear.
Minister of Health and Wellness Dr Christopher Tufton announced at a press briefing yesterday that a Jamaican woman who resides in the United Kingdom tested positive for the novel coronavirus, or SARS-CoV-2. The woman, said to be a young adult, arrived in the island on March 4.
Mark Goldburg, a security guard at Dick Kinkead Pharmacy on Port Royal Street, Kingston, said that customers flooded the compact drugstore between 12:30 p.m. and 2 p.m. in a buying binge to ward off the disease.
“The rush in here was pretty abnormal. We had to close the door to restrict persons because of everybody rushing in at once, and we couldn’t monitor everybody at one time,” the guard told The Gleaner.
“You could barely pass through the aisles. It was like squeezing through a haystack. You see the crowd and you want to go through, and you don’t even know which angle to take it,” Goldburg said.
Additionally, he said by the time he allowed in the last set of customers who were eagerly waiting outside mid-afternoon, most of the anti-coronavirus stock had already been sold out.
Items such as, masks, Lysol, gloves, hand sanitiser, and vitamin C supplements were in high demand at all pharmacies in the Corporate Area.
Mitzie Latibeaudiere, proprietor of East Queen Street Pharmacy in downtown Kingston, said she had been preparing for weeks for the rush that would come from the confirmation of the virus in Jamaica.
Latibeaudiere said that although she had ordered enough stock, she did not mentally prepare for the mad scramble for supplies.
“I am overwhelmed right now, I am literally tired. I am here sourcing vitamin C, hydrogen peroxide, masks, and gloves, just trying to get everything in to meet the demand, because I know it was going to happen. My masks are finished right now, but I am expecting a delivery of more goods tomorrow (Wednesday),” she said.
One shopper at Nelson’s Drug Store in Cross Roads, Kingston, who asked to remain anonymous said that despite going to three pharmacies, she had been unable to buy hand sanitiser because all bottles were sold out.
Another shopper who visited the supermarket at Sovereign on the Boulevard said that most of the items she sought to purchase were out of stock.
“There were no trollies. I had to wait for one. No Dettol, no vinegar, no hand sanitiser, no Lysol, no hand soap, no bread, and they were low on tissue, and bottled water was going fast,” she said.