FILE PHOTO: People wearing face masks walk by Flinders Street Station after cases of the coronavirus were confirmed in…
FILE - People wearing face masks walk by Flinders Street Station after cases of the coronavirus were confirmed in Melbourne, Australia, Jan. 29, 2020.

SYDNEY - Australia has confirmed its second death from the coronavirus.  The latest victim is a 95-year-old woman who died at a nursing home in Sydney. Australia now has more than 40 confirmed COVID-19 cases.  

The woman, Australia’s second coronavirus victim, died Tuesday at a facility in Sydney.  Another elderly resident at the aged care center has also tested positive for the virus.

FILE - A photographer takes photos near the quarantined Diamond Princess cruise ship anchored at a port in Yokohama, near Tokyo, Feb. 21, 2020.

A 78-year-old man died in Perth over the weekend.  He was a passenger onboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship that was on lockdown in the Japanese port of Yokohama before being flown home.

The number of COVID-19 infections in Australia has risen sharply in recent days.

But Australia's chief medical officer, Professor Brendan Murphy, has told a parliamentary hearing in Canberra that 80 percent of people infected with the coronavirus show “such mild symptoms they barely notice it and that is particularly the case in children.”

Australians are being urged to stop the panic buying of household essentials in fear over the spread of the disease.  Supermarket shelves have been emptied of toilet paper, tissues and hand sanitizers despite government pleas for calm.

There has been high demand, too, for rice, frozen meals and pet food.

Psychologists call it "herd behavior" and it has prompted shops to ration certain products as customers scramble to get what they want, or believe they will need, to outlast the crisis.

Empty shelves are pictured at Coles Supermarket following reports of coronavirus in the Canberra suburb of Manuka, Australia, March 2, 2020 in this picture obtained by Reuters from social media. (Adam Spence via Reuters)

“Everything was gone,” said a women.

“Well, there are signs inside with limits of how much bread, milk and toilet paper you can buy, which I have never seen before," said another shopper. "The teller actually mentioned people are maybe stocking up, panic buying.”

Is it panic-buying, or simply being well-prepared for potential shortages?  Either way, the authorities in Australia say stock-piling is not necessary as many manufacturers of toilet paper, for example, are increasing production.

Australia has more than 40 confirmed coronavirus cases.  Medical officials have warned that it is no longer possible to stop the disease entering the country despite a ban on foreign nationals traveling from China and Iran. Those restrictions now apply to travelers arriving in Australia from South Korea.

 

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