Coronavirus: Sanitising goo flies off the shelves in SA shops

15 March 2020 - 00:00 By SUTHENTIRA GOVENDER
Can't get your hands on hand santiser? Wash them well with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
Can't get your hands on hand santiser? Wash them well with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
Image: 123RF/atlasfoto

While the world has gone crazy over single- and double-ply toilet paper in the face of Covid-19, South Africans are clearing the shelves of hand sanitisers, disinfectants and cleaning products.

South African supermarkets have been under the whip to keep up with the demand for all things sanitary.

Pick n Pay has seen a spike in the demand for cleaning and personal hygiene products.

"Customers have understandably been keen to buy more cleaning and personal hygiene products, especially hand sanitisers. We are working hard to ensure that we stay in stock," said a spokesperson.

The supermarket giant said it has plans in place to have hand sanitising units freely available for its staff and customers.

"We have effective hygiene measures in our stores. Among these are stringent cleaning protocols and providing sanitising wipes at store entrances."

The supermarket is not concerned about running low on stock because 90% of its food and grocery products are supplied from within SA.

The Shoprite Group, which has Checkers as part of its stable, has also seen rising demand for hygiene products and disinfectants.

"The group's buying offices remain in daily contact with suppliers and factories locally and across the globe. Orders and shipments are visibly tracked and monitored to react to sudden changes in supply where necessary, such as provision for the current increase in consumer demand for sanitisers, hygiene products and disinfectants," said group CEO Pieter Engelbrecht.

Shoprite has also put into place contingency plans to mitigate stock order delays and cancellations out of China for certain winter products, such as heaters and electric blankets, including switching the source of supply to countries such as Bangladesh, Ukraine, India, Turkey and Poland.

"Store employees are continuously educated and informed about the importance of strict hygiene and hand-washing procedures, as well as the clean-as-you-go principle, where surfaces are ongoing cleaned and disinfected while working," said Engelbrecht.

"Travel guidelines and related precautionary measures have been put in place and communicated to staff who need to travel, as well as business associates who are travelling to meet with our staff."

Woolworths said it is "closely monitoring this issue to ensure we have the best possible measures in place to safeguard our employees' and customers' health", said a spokesperson.

"Our staff are consistently updated on developments on the outbreak and we have provided guidance and training on personal hygiene and prevention measures.

"We have increased the number of hand sanitisers in store for use by both our customers and our employees."

G Fox, a national supplier of chemical products, has been inundated with queries about its sanitisers.

"The demand is unprecedented and we are being inundated with inquiries to supply," G Fox told the Sunday Times.

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