As of writing this, there are 18 confirmed cases of the coronavirus in Latvia. Most of them travelers who returned home from other European countries. When dealing with an epidemic, people ought to be careful, yet there’s a difference between being careful and panicking.
I recently got the following e-mail from the government:
In view of the global situation caused by Covid-19 and the potential risks in Latvia, an emergency situation is announced in the country from 12 March to 14 April.
In order to limit the spread of the virus, a number of precautions will be taken during this period, incl. distance learning in all schools will be introduced from 13 March. The only exception is the centralised state exams, which will be carried out on site – in schools.
In addition, trainings, competitions and rehearsals held within the framework of cultural, sports and interest- related education programmes have to be discontinued during the period of emergency situation.
In order to attend pre-school educational institutions, parents have to submit a written statement to the institution on 13 March that the child and family have not visited the countries affected by Covid-19 and have not been in contact with Covid-19 affected persons. This statement should also include information that parents do not have any other possibility of providing childcare.
I’d say that nothing here tells people to start panicking and frantically stockpiling food. The fact that schools are getting closed doesn’t imply that grocery stores will close as well.
Today I went grocery shopping. My surgeon told me not to carry heavy stuff for at least four weeks after the surgery, which means going grocery shopping every few days (I don’t own a car, thus I have to carry everything I buy).
Here’s what I saw in a grocery store. The panic has started. This is the shop shelf that was supposed to have rice in there. Shelves with rice, buckwheat, oat flakes, flour, etc. grain products were pretty empty. So were the shelves with toilet paper. And a few other shelves.
Storing a bit of non-perishable food at home is reasonable. In case you get sick, you will need to sit at home for two weeks, thus some food reserves could be useful.
Unfortunately, I strongly suspect that this is not what I am seeing here. Buying whatever is still left at the shop shelf regardless of whether you even like this food is a bad idea, because you will probably end up throwing out said food later.
Personally, my normal diet is pretty incompatible with storing food anyway. I eat about a kilogram of fresh vegetables and fruits every day. Sure, potatoes, cauliflower, cabbage, carrots, pumpkins, zucchini, eggplants, etc. vegetables can be stored for a couple of weeks at the room temperature, but these foods would require a cellar for longer term storage. Never mind all the fruits, which usually rot after being stored at room temperature for a while. Nor do I have a large freezer for storing meat and fish. And fresh milk cannot be stored at all (powdered milk isn’t even available in retail here, because people prefer buying fresh milk instead).
Oh well, at least I also like the taste of nuts, seeds, dried fruits, beans, peas, and lentils. Rolled oats and buckwheat are also fine with me. I guess I could survive for two weeks on pumpkin seeds, walnuts, cooked legumes, and dried figs in case I actually got the virus. Conveniently, I already have those at home, which means I shall abstain from panicked grocery shopping.