In the US, it was toilet paper, in Mexico it is beer, and in France, as expected, it is flour. The goods missing from stores show how the world deals with coronavirus blockages.
The winner of the most bizarre shortage of 2020 is Afghanistan, where a rumor about a mustache newborn advising the purchase of black tea sent people to the shops en masse.
“I will live two hours and have come to tell you that black tea is the cure for this virus,” the quote from a photo of the baby, supposedly from the eastern province of Nangarhar, is widely shared on Facebook.
The run on the ubiquitous black tea tripled prices shortly before the crowds calmed down.
In Mexico, beer – along with tequila – is a favorite drink.
When the country closed, the two national beer giants Heineken and Grupo Modelo – who make the country’s beloved and now unfortunately Corona brand – announced they would stop producing.
That caused a wave of panic purchases and a challenging Twitter campaign: #ConLaCervezaNo, or “Don’t mess with the beer.”
Sri Lanka tried to prevent the population from engaging in such vices: it has maintained a general ban on alcohol and cigarettes since its closure on March 20, triggering an explosion in home brewing, an excise officer said.
The DIY distillation has fueled a run on sugar, a key ingredient in producing the local moonshine known as kasippu.
There were even suspected “staged” robberies of liquor stores, as shopkeepers attempted to sell the precious item under the radar.
– Healthy mind, healthy body –
In Iraq, staying home means spending long afternoons watching TV or talking to family members – which requires salted sunflower seeds.
Supermarkets are running out of the popular snack faster than ever, as parents and students waste hours they would normally have spent at work or school.
For Libyans in the war-ravaged capital of Tripoli, home schooling was particularly difficult.
“We are out of printer paper, so I looked up all my husband’s unused calendars so they could write down lessons and solve math exercises,” said Nadia al-Abed, a mother who stays at home with three young children whose school is closed.
“I begged them to write as small as possible and bribe them with candy,” she added.
Schools, airports and non-essential companies around the world have been closed for weeks as countries try to curb the blazing fast spread of the new corona virus.
Some try to protect themselves by strengthening their immunity naturally.
In the former Soviet countries of Central Asia, the demand and prices for wild rue have increased enormously.
Also known as harmala, the herb is traditionally burned in households to ward off disease and protect prosperity.
In Bulgaria, people struggled to buy ginger and lemons as immunity enhancers, while in Tunisia, citizens hunted for garlic – despite warnings from the World Health Organization that these home remedies do nothing against the new corona virus.
– Pastries and plants –
However, by far the most popular coping mechanism has been baking.
Supermarkets across France, Spain, Greece and other parts of Europe have reported shortages of flour, chocolate and yeast as trapped citizens try to get their hands on elaborate pies.
France’s enterprising home bakers skip the overwhelmed supermarkets and buy the raw ingredients directly from their local bakery to use at home.
Romanians joke about ‘yeast dealers’ making a fortune selling the now rare sourdough on the black market.
Fake real estate ads even offer to “trade a downtown flat for a pound of yeast”.
And as the Islamic holy month of Ramadan begins, households are stocking up on ingredients for the big sunset meals that will break their daily fasts.
As a result, semolina, a golden wheat flour used for bread and pastries, is a precious commodity in Algeria.
“I reserve the small quantities that are delivered to me for my regular customers,” said a shop owner in El-Ashour, a district of Algiers.
In Argentina, it’s eggs: 30 of them once cost just 160 pesos, or $ 2.35, but now run at 240 pesos, or $ 3.52.
When many countries come out of their minds with a new class of professional chefs, Australia will see flower gardens all over the country.
“We’ve seen an increase in popularity in all plant varieties over the past month,” said Alex Newman of the Bunnings Warehouse hardware store.
As a sign that Australians are bracing for a longer lockdown, Bunnings’ most popular online guide includes tips on the fastest growing plants to create a screen of neighbors – providing extra privacy for those who stay at home.
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