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Man tasered after fight over toilet paper as coronavirus tensions grow

Evening Standard logo Evening Standard 06/03/2020 Kit Heren
a close up of a computer: Supermarkets also emptied in Australia, where one man has reportedly tried to flog toilet roll online for thousands of pounds (AMMY KWONG via REUTERS) © Provided by Evening Standard Supermarkets also emptied in Australia, where one man has reportedly tried to flog toilet roll online for thousands of pounds (AMMY KWONG via REUTERS)

A man was tasered by police after allegedly starting a fight over toilet paper as tensions rise amid growing coronavirus fears.

The 50-year-old man allegedly confronted officers and two other people and "became aggressive" in a shop in Tamworth in New South Wales, Australia.

He threw tissue boxes at a female employee, according to police, and then reportedly grabbed a female customer by the throat when she approached him.

The man only stopped his alleged attack when another customer came to the woman's aid.

a man standing in front of a store: Empty supermarket shelves in Sydney, Australia (MARALINDA BOYD via REUTERS) © Provided by Evening Standard Empty supermarket shelves in Sydney, Australia (MARALINDA BOYD via REUTERS)

After the police were called, they found the man in a nearby supermarket, where he reportedly put one officer in a headlock and tried to grab his gun.

Police tasered the man and charged him with common assault, resisting an officer in execution of duty, and assaulting an officer in execution of duty.

The arrest took place just days after a woman was arrested over an alleged knife incident over toilet paper in a supermarket in a New South Wales suburb.

Several images of Australians seemingly panic-buying items like toilet paper have appeared on social media amid coronavirus fears, while the hashtags #toiletpapergate and #toiletpapercrisis have emerged on Twitter.

Two people have died of coronavirus in Australia, with 60 confirmed cases. 28 cases have been in New South Wales.

But Coles, one of the country's largest supermarket chains, said it had "comprehensive" plans to manage stock availability in case of unusual occurrences such as the virus.

The company continued: ‘We are working with our suppliers and transport partners to manage our response to the coronavirus and minimise any long-term impacts on product availability for customers."

Woolworths, another large chain, has limited sales to four packs per shopper to maintain stock until supplies increase. The Australian branch of Costco is rationing toilet paper to one bulk buy pack per shopper.

One man has reportedly tried to sell toilet paper online for thousands of pounds.

Two people have died of coronavirus in Australia, with 60 confirmed cases. 28 cases have been in New South Wales.

Scott Morrison wearing a suit and tie: Prime Minister Scott Morrison even weighed in on the shortage (Getty Images) © Provided by Evening Standard Prime Minister Scott Morrison even weighed in on the shortage (Getty Images)

Speaking to a parliamentary panel on Wednesday, Chief Medical Officer Brendan Murphy added: "We are trying to reassure people that removing all of the lavatory paper from the shelves of supermarkets probably isn't a proportionate or sensible thing to do at this time."

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has told Australians to stay calm, despite fears over the virus.

In a press conference on Tuesday, he said: "It is important that people just go about their business and their normal processes in a calm manner...

"I would just urge people to be going about their business in the normal way when it comes to those matters."

Australia's central bank warned on Thursday that coronavirus will cut gross domestic product by at least half a percentage point.

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