The Sensible People’s Guide To Prepping for Coronavirus In Australia

The Sensible People’s Guide To Prepping for Coronavirus In Australia
Image: Getty Images

With coronavirus diagnoses popping up all over the place, people are starting to become wary of overseas travel, large meetings and conferences and spending any time near someone with the tiniest sniffle. And while the panic seems a little over the top at the moment – panic buying toilet paper is a tad extreme and completely not necessary in Australia – there are some things you can do to sensibly prepare for a time when we may need to reduce our contact with other people.

Pick up your remote communications and collaboration game

There are lots of options for effectively working remotely and collaborating with colleagues and clients. Tools like Slack have a free option that makes it easy to work remotely. It integrates with lots of other cloud services like Zoom so you can easily toggle from IM to video.

Microsoft is offering Teams for free for the the next six months so that’s another option.

LogMeIn is offering its services for free as well to governments/municipalities, educational institutions, healthcare organisations and non-profits.

And Google is doing something similar, offering G Suite and G Suite for Education customers Hangouts Meet’s premium functionality for free until 1 July 2020.

Look at remote conference attendance options

MWC, Google’s I/O and Facebook F8 are just the tip of the cancelled conference iceberg. The famous Geneva Motor Show has also been canned and we can expect many more events to be put to the sword over the coming weeks. Even the Tokyo Olympics are at risk although the IOC is keeping quiet and saying a cancellation or delay is not currently expected.

The good news is that many events are already equipped with streaming infrastructure for capturing and sharing event sessions. If you were planning to attend a conference but are worried about coronavirus, cancel your travel plans and look at the remote access options.

Cleanliness matters

Washing your hands is one of the most important things you can do to prevent catching or spreading any infection. Use soap and water and wash for as long as it takes you to sing “Happy Birthday” twice through.

Hand sanitiser is good but hand washing is more effective.

How To Make Your Own Hand Sanitiser

While washing your hands is important it can be a pain to do after every sneeze or cough. Which is why hand sanitiser is so handy. A quick squirt and a rub and most of the risk of infection is gone. But hand sanitiser can be expensive and hard to come by. Here's how to make your own hand sanitiser.

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When it comes to your home or office, the World Health Organisation (WHO) says it is not certain how long the virus that causes COVID-19 survives on surfaces. Studies suggest that coronaviruses, including preliminary information on the COVID-19 virus, may survive on surfaces for between a few hours up to several days depending on factors like the type of surface, temperature or humidity of the environment.

It recommends cleaning surfaces with simple disinfectant to kill the virus and protect yourself and others.

And face-masks – unless you have cold and flu like symptoms, there’s no need to wear a face mask according to the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners. Something reiterated by Australia’s Chief Medical Officer.

Be sensible about what you ‘panic’ buy

The consensus is that coronavirus has an incubation period of between one and 14 days with 5 days the most common. While one Australian fatality has been confirmed, just 34 people have been infected here with 21 of those people now OK.

Local supplies of everyday items aren’t in peril – especially toilet paper. In fact, we have ample supplies in Australia that will be restocked regularly, so there is absolutely no need to buy 300 rolls.

Given the incubation period, ensuring you have a couple of weeks worth of food isn’t a bad plan. For example, tinned fruit and vegetables, frozen veggies and meat and other essentials are a good idea. For many of us, stretching what’s in the pantry and fridge for a couple of weeks, assuming you need to be quarantined at home, shouldn’t require emptying the supermarket shelves.

Know the facts

It’s fair to say that there’s been a lot of hysterical commentary and misinformation about COVID-19, or the novel coronavirus. The WHO has produced a Q and A that covers most of the big questions people have about coronavirus. Rather than relying on information from the people up the road or a talking head conspiracy theorist, arm yourself with real information from a credible source.


  • I haven’t seen ANY sign of panic buying. No shortage of toilet paper in any store I’ve visited. Some toilet paper is actually on special if you look at Woolies online!!!! I can’t help wonder whether those photos of empty racks circulating are staged or taken out of context?

    • My partner just sent me a photo of our local being empty – Woolloongabba Coles. All that was left was a 4-pack that she snagged, because we are actually down to our last couple rolls. This weekend, the shelves looked normal.

      I think the idiocy is spreading memetically.
      “HEADLINE: Fuckwits panic-buying toilet paper are fucking morons. Look at these fucking morons.”
      Fuckwit: “Shit, there’s not going to be any TP left because of idiots buying it all? I better buy it all!”

    • My local supermarket was out of toilet paper, flour and other basics at the weekend. Today I didn’t see a single trolley that didn’t have toilet paper in it.. this is real. And it’s super annoying.

    • Nope, just because you haven’t personally witnessed something doesn’t mean it’s not real. I stopped by Coles in Launceston yesterday and the toilet paper shelves were cleaned out. I assume the stupid panic buying happens in areas with a high proportion of bogans who get all their news from Facebook and Sunrise.

  • Well, it finally happened. The toilet-paper-panic-buying idiocy has spread to my local shops. The morons have left us with empty, empty-ass shelves. My partner managed to beg a 4-pack (we’re down to our last roll at home), instead of the usual 24-36 packs that we get, so hooray for clean butts for the immediate future.

    Wouldn’t you love to be a TP manufacturer right now?

    • We need our most sarcastic and acerbic supermarket employees giving disappointed looks to anyone buying two or more packs of toilet paper. 😉
      Meanwhile, has anyone witnessed TP-hoarding in person? Seems all anyone has seen is the empty shelves, not the vacant zombies actually buying it.

      • I’ve seen loads of tweets with images of complete assholes loading their trolleys like it was a buffet plate and they didn’t want to get up again. A quick google image search of ‘toilet paper trolley’ points to a few news articles who found photos.

  • The panic buying thing is a recent but not brand-new phenomenon. I live in Bermagui on the NSW South Coast and in the bushfire crisis on the 31st December when the place was full of tourists we had a local emergency when a massive fire went through Yowrie, Wandella, Verona/Quaama, Cobargo and Coolagalite and destroyed heaps of peoples homes and businesses, and very tragically people locals in the area lost their lives trying to protect their homes/farms. On the morning of the 31st I went to Woolies mid-morning to buy some ice as we had no power in town (power restored 8 days later). I was shocked. Woolies was full of several hundred tourists and they were lined up 30 deep at each check-out having stripped the shelves bare, more or less. I didn’t see one local in Woolies except for the employees running the check-outs. I watched gob-smacked as some of these fat horrible irrational maniacs raced past me to their cars with trolleys loaded full, some with only about a hundred packets of chips and nothing else, I shit you not. They all loaded up their car boots with any shit they could grab and all immediately pissed off back to Canberra and wherever else they came from having successfully emptied the town supermarket in about an hour and a half. 99% of these idiots left town on the 31st, and thankfully they were all gone by 9am the next day. Happy New Year.

    • It’s bizarre since at my local Coles, the shelves that’ve been cleaned out are pasta, flour and toilet paper. If that’s your diet, you’re going to be so blocked up, toilet paper will be the last thing you’ll need.

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