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Toilet paper sales in Germany soar as coronavirus numbers go up

As coronavirus cases continue to go up in Germany, the demand for some hygiene products, including toilet roll, has shot up, according to official figures.

Toilet paper sales in Germany soar as coronavirus numbers go up
A sign in a Berlin shop urging people not to hoard or "hamstern". Photo: DPA

A report by the Federal Statistical Office (Destatis) shows that sales figures for toilet paper in Germany in the week of October 12th to 17th were almost twice as high (+89.9 percent) as the average for the pre-crisis months of August 2019 to January 2020.

Sales of disinfectants during this week were almost three quarters (+72.5 percent) above the pre-crisis average and sales of soap were almost two thirds (+62.3 percent) higher than the the pre-crisis average.

READ ALSO: Toilet paper disappears from German supermarket shelves as panic buying returns

Demand for disinfectants and soap remained slightly above average even during the summer, when food sales had largely returned to normal.

In the 42nd calendar week (October 12th-17th), demand for certain food products also picked up. Compared to the pre-crisis average, sales of flour rose by more than a quarter (+28.4 percent) and yeast by more than a third (+34.8 percent). However, sales of pasta such as noodles were slightly below average (-0.2 percent).

Politicians and trade associations have said the supply situation of daily consumer goods is secure and have urged the population to refrain from “hoarding”.

Der Hamsterkauf is the German word used to describe the panic buying or hoarding that occurs during times of widespread fear or concern.

READ ALSO: German word of the day: Der Hamsterkauf

It comes from the verb hamstern, which means “to hoard or panic buy” since hamsters are known for filling their cheeks with food.

At the beginning of the pandemic, empty supermarket shelves were a common sight in Germany as shops sold out of products like toilet roll, soap, tinned tomatoes, pasta and flour.

Vocabulary

Toilet paper – (das) Toilettenpapier

Disinfectant – (das) Desinfektionsmittel

Toiletries/hygiene products – (die) Hygieneartikeln

We're aiming to help our readers improve their German by translating vocabulary from some of our news stories. Did you find this article useful? Let us know.

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COVID-19

Munich sees sharp rise in Covid cases after Oktoberfest

Since the start of Germany’s Oktoberfest, the incidence of Covid infections in Munich has risen sharply. Though a connection with the festival can’t yet be proven, it seems likely.

Munich sees sharp rise in Covid cases after Oktoberfest

Two weeks after the start of Oktoberfest, the Covid numbers in Munich have more than tripled.

On Sunday, the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) reported an incidence of 768.7 for the city of Munich, though updated figures for the end of the festival are not expected until later in the week. Usually, on weekends and public holidays, there is a delay in reports.

In the entire state of Bavaria, the incidence value on Sunday was 692.5.

According to Munich’s public health officer, Beatrix Zurek, bed occupancy in Munich hospitals has also increased. Two weeks ago, 200 beds in Munich were occupied by Covid patients, whereas there are now around 350.

Though a relationship between the sharp rise in infections with Oktoberfest, which ended on Monday, can’t be proven at the moment, it seems very likely, according to experts. A significant increase in Covid incidences has also been shown at other public festivals – about one and a half weeks after the start. 

READ ALSO: Germany’s famed Oktoberfest opens after two-year pandemic hiatus

After a two-year break due to the pandemic, around 5.7 million visitors came to this year’s Wiesn according to the festival management – around 600,000 fewer than at the last Oktoberfest before the pandemic in 2019, when there were 6.3 million.

Federal Health Minister Karl Lauterbach (SPD) took to Twitter to comment on the rise in incidence in Munich during the Oktoberfest. “This would not have been necessary if self-tests had been taken before admission,” he said.

“Compared to the price of a measure of beer, €2-3 (for tests) wouldn’t have mattered,” he said.

Even before the start of the Wiesn, he had spoken out in favour of people taking voluntary self-tests. Lauterbach stressed that now is the time for special measures against Covid.

“The development shows what will happen if the states wait too long with the mask obligation in indoor areas,” he added.

READ ALSO: KEY POINTS: Germany’s new Covid-19 rules from October

In neighbouring counties, where many Oktoberfest visitors came from, the number of Covid cases has also risen noticeably.  Beatrix Zurek said that it is unclear, however, how much of a role Oktoberfest played in these figures, as people are currently much more active socially overall, with concerts and other events also taking place throughout the state.

Christoph Spinner, an infections specialist at Munich’s Klinikum, has urged people not to be alarmed by the rising numbers.

“We had expected rising incidences here. We knew that there could be a doubling, tripling, even quadrupling,” he said.

He said that this is no cause for concern, as many people have been vaccinated or have also recovered from previous Covid infections, so any new infections are therefore usually mild.

The virologist advises people over 60 or with pre-existing conditions to get a second booster vaccination, but otherwise said people shouldn’t be alarmed by the rising incidences.

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