Following President Cyril Ramaphosa’s announcement, that schools would be closed from Wednesday and some borders would be shut down, hundreds of people rushed to the stores near them to buy food and essentials in bulk fearing that the country would soon be in lockdown.

The government has however, discouraged people from doing that warning that this behaviour would create unnecessary panic.

But South African retailers and manufacturers have assured the public that they were taking steps in ensuring the supply chain was not compromised.

The phenomenon of panic buying started in China then spread to other parts of the world as the spread of the deadly COVID-19 continued to rise and claimed thousands of lives.

On Monday, social media was flooded with images and videos of trolleys full of groceries as people embarked on panic buying.




Meanwhile, Pick n Pay has introduced a designated hour every Wednesday morning, for the elderly to do their shopping.

The elders will have to produce their identity documents in order for them to be allowed into the shop.

On Tuesday night, Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize announced in a statement that the country has recorded 23 new cases.

The number of confirmed cases in the country has now gone up from 62 to 116.

SABC Digital News spoke to Clinical Psychologist Khosi Jiyane about the psychology behind mass hysteria and panic buying.

Jiyane has explained the reasoning behind some of these behaviors or habits.

What is mass hysteria?

What is the psychology behind mass hysteria or epidemic hysteria?

And between men and women, who’s likely to experience epidemic hysteria?

What does it [mass hysteria or epidemic hysteria] say about you as a person?

Also, what is the psychology behind the bulk or panic buying that we are seeing currently?

What are the key factors that create hysteria around real pandemics?

Can a real pandemic (such as COVID-19) turn into mass hysteria?

How does one stop contributing to societal panic but also stay vigilant?

One of the key factors in pandemics is the population’s ability to remain calm and react logically to situations.

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