health

Dianne has supplies for weeks in case of a coronavirus outbreak. But what do the experts say?

Since the 27th of January, Sydney woman Dianne Regan has been slowly stockpiling supplies from her local supermarket.

She lives in a household of seven people, including her 23-year-old daughter who is a severe asthmatic. Dianne also lives with her mum, 83, who suffers from Alzheimer’s Dementia.

After hearing about the millions of people in lockdown in Wuhan, China, due to coronavirus, Dianne decided she would take precautionary measures in case the epidemic arrives on our shores.

The 50-year-old insists she is not a ‘doomsday prepper’. But she does have enough supplies to last her entire household for six weeks.

“I started out first with medication… my mum is on 10 tablets a day. So the first thing I did was make sure I got enough of that,” she tells Mamamia.

“Then I got cleaning stuff, some gloves, disinfectants, all the things we would need in our house.

“I just keep adding things,” Dianne admitsbefore adding she thought she was “crazy” herself at first.

coronavirus
Dianne's pantry is stocked to last her family six weeks. Image: Supplied.

"Trust me, I've never done this in my life. But I would prefer people laugh at me and ridicule me, over risking not being prepared for my family."

"In my whole life, I've never seen the stuff that is coming out of China and I also have never heard of a country locking down millions of people. That is an indication that this is very, very serious."

Of course, Dianne is not alone.

In fact, many Australians are stocking up on essentials in case a coronavirus pandemic is declared.

As a result, you may have seen some of our supermarkets in Australia look like this:

coronavirus
A Woolworths in Sydney's north shore. Image: Supplied.
ADVERTISEMENT

So, there's one question we've all been left wondering: Should we be stockpiling supplies in preparation for a coronavirus outbreak in Australia?

"I don't think they need to be stockpiling," Professor Sharon Lewin, Director of The Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity, tells Mamamia.

"Supplies of toilet paper and food, I just think that is no risk at all currently... I think it is very unlikely [that supplies could run out], and if we were looking at that, we would get plenty of advance warning from the government. So I wouldn't be stocking up on food or medication at the moment."

However, Professor Sharon Lewin does admit that "we have, of course, never been put in this exact situation before."

"The biggest thing that we are preparing for is the impact on the healthcare sector... The biggest concern is if we get a large number of people that need hospital care - that's an extra burden on an already stretched healthcare system."

Listen to Mamamia's daily news podcast, The Quicky. On today's episode, we find out whether we should be stopping travel, cancelling the Olympics and be worried about the economy as coronavirus spreads. Post continues below.

So, how high is the risk to the general Australian public in regards to coronavirus?

"I think the risk is very low, given the numbers of cases we've had in comparison to many other countries."

In Australia, we have had 33 cases and one death. Worldwide, there have been nearly 91,000 infection cases and just over 3000 deaths.

"The best thing for people to do right now is regular hand hygiene, we know that works, and not touching your face. If you're sick or have a cough or a fever, and have recently been overseas, seek help early and ring and tell them your situation so that the GP practice can be prepared.

"We're moving into flu season now, so we recommend everyone gets vaccinated for the flu. Because it's a bad combination, having both coronavirus and the flu - we know that has been happening."

Professor Sharon Lewin emphasises that for more vulnerable people, "heightened awareness" is necessary.

"My view is that we have a really good system in Australia where we have a Chief Medical Officer, Brendan Murphy, and he is holding daily meetings with all the chief health officers from every state. And I think the advice we're getting from Brendan Murphy is the advice we should be listening to, and that's not to be stockpiling our food or toilet paper."

Feature image: Supplied.


Sign up for the "Mamamia Daily" newsletter. Get across the stories women are talking about today.


00:00 / ???