Shoppers in mixed reaction to COVID-19 case

Shoppers have responded with mixed reactions to the announcement of Samoa’s first positive COVID-19 case. 

Food was the biggest concern for shoppers at Frankie’s Hypermarket in Vaitele Tai, according to Store Manager Meafou Pulemagafa in an interview with the Samoa Observer.

“Just in the morning they rushed in here…people were hauling a lot of cases of chicken, bags of rice and bags of sugar,” she said.

“I didn’t see any people buying hand sanitisers or [a lot of] toilet paper – just food.”

There was a commotion in the morning and Frankie’s shoppers were talking about the COVID-19 case but there was nothing out of the ordinary, saidPulemagafa.

She added that there was no unusually high demand for hand sanitisers, toilet paper and other necessities in the afternoon. 

The supermarket was packed as usual in the afternoon but the crowd was not rushing, compared to a normal Thursday afternoon, she noted. 

Shoppers certainly were not racing for household items as had been seen in other nations after a COVID-19 outbreak. 

“For us, in Samoa, the commotion is with food,” Pulemagafa said.

“It’s [otherwise] been normal. One of our other branches in Lelata did request for more cases of chicken, bags of rice and sugar.

“So we were busy with that and they were busy too. The store there is small and I don’t think they don’t have a big stock so they’ve requested those things. It’s mainly food.”

One Frankie’s shopper who bought about 20 pounds of frozen chicken said she wasn’t aware of the COVID-19 announcement.

“Oh I’ve been busy with the building of our house. I don’t know anything about COVID,” said the woman from Toamua, who did not want to be identified.

The chicken she purchased was to cook food for the workers. The Toamua woman and a young man who was with her were not wearing masks.

Most Frankie’s employees were wearing masks with one employee stationed in front to sanitise the hands of shoppers.

Ping Wu, who is the store sanager at Best Value Supermarket in Vaitele Fou, also said there was nothing out of the ordinary at her store on Thursday.

Most employees were wearing masks including Wu.

“Before people wanted the toilet paper and the cleaners for hands but today is a normal day. No people [are buying toilet paper and hand sanitisers],” she said.

Sitini Sione, a young man from Satui who sells limu for $10 per ofu in front of Farmer Joe’s Vaitele Tai, said he learnt of the COVID-19 positive case from a keke puaa (pork bun) seller.

“Oh, the pandemic? I just found out like just now from one of the keke puaa sellers,” he said.

“When I got here, a guy who sells keke puaa told me. Some of the security guards here also told me.”

Sione said he was worried but he was not wearing a mask nor was he observing social distancing.

Asked to comment on what he plans to do now that Samoa has recorded its first case of COVID-19, Sione said: “I have no idea.”

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