Consumers yesterday continued to brave stores amid panic shopping in light of The Bahamas having its first official case of COVID-19.
At Chelsea’s Choice water depot on Abundant Life Road, some residents waited for hours in backed-up traffic to get their supply of five-gallon water bottles.
Leslie Rolle, 54, said the rush to get water was so intense that he had to drive around the area several times before he was even able to drive into the entryway to wait in line for his bottles.
“I was here, like, maybe two hours, come to get seven bottles of water,” he told The Nassau Guardian.
He added, “The road is all blocked up. The officers told me, ‘Go back around.’ So, I done circled about three times just to get some water.”
When asked why he was purchasing so much water, he said: “To stock up, just because you never know what’s happening.
“I’ve got kids off from school, they’ll be drinking a lot of wate[r].
“They’ll be eating a lot and drinking a lot so, I’m just trying to get some extra stuff and stock up.”
On Sunday, Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis announced that all schools would be closed immediately until April 14.
Rolle said he planned on being at work only up until Wednesday, noting that he is an employee of the Atlantis resort on Paradise Island – which later in the day announced it is asking its employees to use their earned vacation days or take unpaid leave due to the novel coronavirus.
He noted that he already stocked up on groceries on Sunday, where a mass of panic shopping left shelves empty across the island.
The scene at Super Value on Mackey Street was less hectic yesterday afternoon when The Guardian visited, although employees said they expected the crowd to pick up in the evening once workers were off.
But a sense of general cautiousness was evident as shoppers were seen wearing gloves, face masks and using the wipes provided at the store’s entrance.
Freddy Major was decked down in a face mask and gloves, and dark sunglasses hid his eyes as he added items to his already packed trolley.
He told The Guardian that he is “ready” to combat COVID-19.
“I mean anyone with common sense nowadays would figure out that we’ve got to protect ourselves,” he said.
“We already have one case here in The Bahamas. And if we don’t separate ourselves like the world is doing, separate ourselves so that the sick can get healed by themselves, and the well can stay well, then the sick are going to make the well sick, so it’s going to get worse.”
He said that these were his “last items now” as he already purchased water, food and bread to sustain his family of four as they remain at home as much as possible in an attempt to follow the recommendations of the Ministry of Health.
Donneka Adderley also said she intends to be shuttered in at home for the next two weeks.
Speaking with The Guardian while waiting to cash out and equipped with a single plastic glove, which she said she uses at all times when in public spaces now, she said she is “somewhat” worried about COVID-19.
“I know that once we keep our immune system on track, whatever, bush medicine, you’ll be okay,” she said.
“But, I’m still worried about other people being contaminated and that’s why I’ll be indoors for two weeks.”
As she noted the potential economic fallout, she added: “This is a serious crisis right now we’re in, so we’ve got to be prepared.”
On the other hand, Ramona Burrows, 52, said she is not engaging in panic buying.
Sitting in a line of traffic with her young grandson playing games on her cellphone beside her while trying to get to Chelsea’s Choice, she said she was just trying to get her usual three bottles of water that were unrelated to the novel coronavirus.
Burrows revealed that taking extra precautions to protect herself is nothing new as she has autoimmune hemolytic anemia, a rare illness which resulted in her having to remove her spleen, which, in turn, affects her immune system.
“I had my spleen out in 2013, so I am very easy to pick up any type of infection. So, I have to get immunizations every year for the rest of my life,” she said.
“And, for me, I’m a police officer, so it’s extremely dangerous.
“As you know, we’re like nurses and doctors, we come into contact with members of the public and tourists on a daily basis, because I actually work at the Paradise Island Police Station.
“So, with that, you know, we see everybody, and so, you’ll be exposed to other people.”
Showing the bottle of hand sanitizer on a key chain and a package of wipes, which she said she keeps in her car, she added: “I carry a bag to work, I have hand sanitizer, lotion – you know, because you keep washing your hands, wipes and Lysol spray.
“Like I’m telling you, I’ve been doing this from 2013 and I was always a person, I always washed my hands anyhow.
“So, this ain’t nothing new to me.”