Coronavirus panic takes many forms, but one of the most widespread seems to be an obsession with toilet paper.
Photos from supermarkets across the world show shelves stripped bare and people queuing up with trolleys piled high with bog roll.
There’s no evidence that there’s a loo roll shortage, or even that there will be any time soon. But people are stocking up all the same.
And that means that some shops are, at least temporarily, running out. And a small number of people, unable to buy toilet paper when they need it, have been panicking and calling the police.
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Newport Oregon Police Department in the US have been so inundated with calls from hysterical citizens that they have posted a plea on their Facebook page for people to stop calling about toilet roll.
It reads: "It’s hard to believe that we even have to post this. Do not call 9-1-1 just because you ran out of toilet paper. You will survive without our assistance."
“In fact,” they continue, “history offers many other options for you in your time of need if you cannot find a roll of your favourite soft, ultra plush two-ply citrus scented tissue.”
They go on to list some historical examples, including sailors using their ship’s anchor rope, and ancient Romans using a sponge soaked in seawater. They point out that, being a coastal town, Newport has plenty of access to seawater.
Without going to any detail about how, they add that “sea shells were also used.”
Bringing the examples closer to home, they continue: “Many Americans took advantage of the numerous pages torn from free catalogs such as Sears and Roebuck.
“The Sears Christmas catalog, four times thicker than the normal catalog, could get a family of three wiped clean from December through Valentine’s Day; or Saint Patrick’s Day if they were frugal.”
The post finishes by listing so everyday alternatives including newspaper, rags and even leaves.
“Mother Earth News magazine will even tell you how to make your own wipes using fifteen different leaves,” they say, adding: “When all else fails, you have magazine pages.”
They conclude by saying: “Be resourceful. Be patient. There is a toilet paper shortage. This too shall pass. Just don’t call 9-1-1. We cannot bring you toilet paper.”
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