Virus update: Fears of quarantine lead to panic buying; SXSW canceled
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Virus update: Fears of quarantine lead to panic buying; SXSW canceled


Rationing supplies. Overwhelmed delivery workers. Toilet paper protected by security guards.

This is the new reality for some retailers that are having to take drastic action to limit the number of toilet paper rolls, face masks and hand sanitizer bottles each person can buy as customers stockpile goods over fears of the novel coronavirus outbreak.

The epidemic has infected more than 97,000 people and killed 3,300 globally, leading to growing alarm that has resulted in mass bulk buying around the world.

Here's a look at developments from the past 24 hours:

  • Supermarkets across the U.S. are seeing spiking demand for items like toilet paper and canned beans as people prepare for the possibility of a quarantine or having to work from home.

  • Austin city officials have canceled the South by Southwest arts and technology festival.

  • At the White House, President Donald Trump has signed a $8.3 billion bill to fight the coronavirus.

  • U.S. jails and prisons are sanitizing cells and stepping up prisoner screenings amid fears that COVID-19 could spread through vast inmate populations. Health officials have long said jails and prisons are ideal environments for virus outbreaks.

  • The virus has become another hurdle in the long and dangerous journeys of Europe-bound migrants. The idea that asylum-seekers could carry the virus across borders has made them more unwanted than before in some European countries. 

  • A cruise ship with more than 3,500 people was still being held off the California coast pending test results showing whether some were infected with the coronavirus. 

  • The United Nations’ climate change agency has postponed a regional conference that was to be held in Uganda in April because of the coronavirus outbreak.

For deeper coverage of the latest developments, select from the stories below. Scroll further for a gallery of stores dealing with virus-induced panic buying:

Photos: Virus fears empty tourist areas and grocery stores

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