Note: This is a satirical piece.
By now we’ve all seen clips of people frantically sweeping the shelves of bleach, cleaning sprays and wipes, and anything claiming to be antibacterial on the label. The latest victims of the coronavirus Bulk Hoarding Syndrome are toilet paper rolls, tissue paper, and rice. Online rumours have many worried that these items won’t be long for the world due to production lines in mainland China being affected by quarantines and shutdowns.
Things are getting pretty insane in the city. Just early yesterday morning, a trio of armed robbers made off with about $1,600 worth of toilet paper from a Wellcome supermarket in Mong Kok. Yes, armed and going after loo rolls, not diamonds. Whoever even heard of a TP heist? Time to install bidets, people!
Because we don’t see common sense prevailing any time soon, we’ve compiled a list of items that might well go out of stock next. According to Hong Kong chatter in internet forums and personal groups chats, these are the things being used to combat and protect against the coronavirus, some with a good degree of ingenuity. Disclaimer: We’re not actually recommending for anyone to jump on the stockpiling bandwagon, we’re just poking fun at some of the unbelievable trends we’ve seen on the internet these past few weeks.
We’ve all heard that the mouth is the part of the human body which carries the most germs, yes? Mouthwash usually claims to kill up to 99 percent of germs in the mouth, so what’s to stop people using it to clean around the house in the absence of Dettol and bleach? Our oral hygiene will take a dip, yes, but we’re not supposed to be taking off our masks, let alone snogging people, so it looks like the only things smelling minty fresh will be our tables and desk tops.
The vision-impaired among us haven’t even been wearing contact lenses because nobody wants to be touching their eyeballs with germy paws. Just like how standard face masks are really worn to prevent virus-ridden droplets from getting into our mouths and noses, glasses also offer a similar low-level protection for eyes. Soon, even those who aren’t short- or long-sighted will snap up glasses and possibly even school lab-type goggles to wear while out and about. Science chic, but make it fashion.
In Elizabeth Gilbert’s hit book Eat, Pray, Love, her friend Richard had some sound advice about travelling in India: “Don’t touch anything but yourself.” We all seem to be taking these words to heart in Hong Kong as well. Let’s have a show of hands: who here has been kicking or elbowing doors open instead of using hands?
If you’re always running late these days because you’re stuck waiting around pull doors for someone to pass through so you can slip in behind them, perhaps invest in gloves. Now, we do know that surgical gloves are also in short supply at the moment, but what’s stopping you from getting actual gloves? If you get a pair of pleather or leather ones, you can wipe them down when you get in; fabric ones can be chucked in the wash.
Those meme images of people in mainland China sticking sanitary napkins across their mugs in the absence of masks have already made the rounds on social media. Necessity may be the mother of invention, but they’re sanitary pads, people, not sanitising pads!
But more recently, some ingenious folks have come up with the idea of sticking a pad on the inside of their masks so they can be peeled off and replaced, extending the life of each precious face mask. We’re not saying this is something that will work, but it sure is a much better idea than those netizens who steamed their face masks thinking they would be sanitised, only to have them disintegrate all over the place.
Garlic has been proven to have certain antibacterial and antiviral properties. In some cultures such as the Philippines, people will even rub raw garlic directly onto wounds to prevent infection. Upping your intake of garlic is probably a good idea as a little boost is better than none. Just please, for the love of God, don’t overdo it like that woman from mainland China who stuffed her face with so much raw garlic that her throat got too inflamed to even croak. And don’t worry about the smell, you’ll be warding off germs and vampires in one go.
People have really been stretching their minds and resources to avoid having to touch anything in these crucial times. Some housing estates in China are reportedly providing residents with toothpicks in the lifts so they can poke at buttons safely. If it wasn’t for the fact that they snap and splinter as easily as our nerves, toothpicks would have long been sold out by now.
Another household good that’s been making the rounds online, surprisingly, are condoms. Perhaps because people are stuck at home so much, they’re getting it on more to combat cabin fever. But if online clips are anything to go by, the possible shortage of condoms are most likely attributed to protection for the hands. If you roll one on over a couple of fingers, you’ll now have a handy mini glove. After all, the very term prophylactic means protection against diseases!
Also being utilised to poke stuff with are lighters. Use the metal bit to touch whatever you don’t want your skin making contact with, then simply click and tilt it to give the metal top a quick burn. Instant sanitisation.
We’re predicting this based on the SARS era, when people found out that kimchi has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, then bought it by the truckloads. In fact, a quick look into the Fusion supermarket near the Localiiz office has revealed that the kimchi section was indeed all cleared out but for three tubs.
The truth is that all foods which have undergone a fermentation process have several reported health benefits, including boosting immunity and anti-microbial and anti-fungal activity. It’s not just kimchi that falls into this category; you could also try kombucha, sauerkraut, tempeh, kefir, natto, and miso.
But before you rush out to the shops to fight a rickety old Chinese lady for the last tub of Greek yoghurt, know that consuming too much fermented goods may cause side effects like bloating, headaches, histamine intolerance, or even infection from probiotics or an antibiotic resistance. Oh well, if nothing else, at least your digestive system will be blooming with good microflora and you’ll have no issues going to the loo! And go easy on the TP...
It’s not just the hospitality and F&B industries suffering during these trying times. Nobody wants to go to the doctor’s or general practitioner’s these days, just in case they run into people who think they might just be feeling a bit off but are actually carrying the coronavirus bug.
Cue even more self-medicating. Cold and flu remedy sachets such as Lemsip have been getting increasingly harder to find. PSA: If you have coronavirus, ain’t no hot lemony drink in the world gon’ be able to cure you. Put the Lemsip down and leave it for people who actually just have minor colds.
Another thing that might fly off the shelves soon are citrus fruits. Aside from being an excellent source of immune system boosting vitamin C, citrus peels can also be repurposed to make cleaning solutions for the home (find out how here).
If people are starting to protect their eyes with goggles, what’s to stop them taking things further and protecting their heads as well? Hongkongers aren’t quite as next-level as mainlanders, who have been spotted with big plastic bottles from water coolers over their heads as make-shift gas masks, but we don’t think people are too above wearing shower caps out so their hair and head is protected from infected droplets.
We might all end up looking like we’ve collectively done a runner from a salon, but at least our hair won’t be contaminated by flying spittle!
In times of war-like crises, Westerners will stockpile canned foods, tinned fruit, and the like; stuff that will keep for a long time. The Asian equivalent is most likely instant noodles. Left unopened, an instant noodle will probably survive nuclear warfare and still not go bad—the veritable cockroach of foodstuffs! Now that rice is gone, how long before people turn to the tried-and-tested perennial favourite MSG-laden noodles?
Honey has antibacterial, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory properties, which is why we get told to have a lot of honey and lemon in hot water to combat sore throats. Manuka honey in particular is more potent in antibiotic quality. Look out for the Unique Manuka Factor rating on the label; manuka honey generally needs to be UMF 10 and above to be considered active and potent.
But it must be said that bees are already dying out and have enough problems as it is than endlessly churning out honey for us pesky humans. We will absolutely flip out if we find out that people are bulk-buying honey on top of everything else!