An Australian newspaper is doing its part to help out as the nation struggles with a toilet paper “crisis” prompted by panic-buying amid the coronavirus outbreak.
Darwin-based NT News, known for its tongue-in-cheek headlines and silly social media antics, printed a special edition with some extra blank pages on Thursday.
“Run out of loo paper? The NT News cares,” the front page reads. “That’s why we’ve printed an eight-page special liftout inside, complete with handy cut lines, for you to use in an emergency.”
The paper’s editor, Matt Williams, told Guardian Australia that the issue was selling well and was “certainly not a crappy edition.”
Australians are buying so much toilet paper ― ahead of nonperishable foods, hand sanitizer and other products ― that shelves have been stripped bare in many stores. Supermarkets have implemented purchase limits on the number of rolls in an effort to limit the frenzy.
This stockpiling comes despite reassurance from authorities, including Prime Minister Scott Morrison, that there is adequate supply. Most of the nation’s toilet tissue is made domestically, and some manufacturers are reportedly moving into 24-hour production to meet the surging demand.
The spike in purchases has prompted hashtags such as #ToiletPaperCrisis, #ToiletPaperApocalypse and #ToiletPaperGate to spread on social media.
The uptick began over the weekend when new cases of COVID-19 were identified in the country. As of Friday, Australia had over 50 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus.
When a truck carrying toilet paper burst into flames near the city of Brisbane in a bizarre accident, fire authorities said they were thankful nobody was hurt and they were able to “save” half of the vehicle’s “precious” cargo.
Official guidance had suggested that people practice good hygiene and consider stocking up on two weeks’ worth of food and household goods if necessary.
The New South Wales state health department has since advised that there’s no need to bulk-buy toilet paper and other products, highlighting that people can call on friends, family and grocery delivery services in the event of a 14-day self-isolation.
The frenzy took on a life of its own on social media.