Amid Covid-19 panic, thieves make off with hundreds of rolls of toilet paper in Hong Kong

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Toilet paper has become such a sought-after commodity in Hong Kong that thieves reportedly held up a supermarket delivery driver and made off with hundreds of rolls on Monday.

The territory has one of the highest incidences of confirmed cases of the deadly viral illnesses — 56 according to the World Health Organization — outside of the disease’s epicenter in mainland China. That has led to reports of panic buying of items such as masks, hand sanitizers and other goods, alongside viral photos of empty supermarket shelves.

The South China Morning Post and other media outlets reported on Monday that the value of the toilet paper theft was a mere HK$1,700 ($218), but that thieves could get more on the black market. Government officials have been pleading with the public to stop hoarding, and battling rumors that have gone viral about shortages of staples.

Hong Kong is scarred by memories of the 2003 SARS outbreak that killed nearly 300 people in the territory, which has had one reported coronavirus death to date. Chinese health authorities reported 2,048 new cases of the virus and 105 more deaths on Monday.

Fresh protests in Hong Kong took place over the weekend by residents who want the government to shut its borders with China to prevent more contagion of Covid-19 and stop plans to turn some buildings into quarantine centers.

Even amid the gloom, some still tried to find humor in Hong Kong’s toilet paper theft:

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