I believe it will be in Singapore's best interests to learn from recent public reactions and put in place specific regulations so that panic buying does not occur.
If a situation similar to the coronavirus outbreak arises in the future, it would help to immediately take the following measures:
First, limit purchases of essential items across all supermarkets. Unnecessary panic buying creates a sense of insecurity and adds stress to supply chains.
It inadvertently brings the cost of goods up due to artificial demand and supply. I believe it also leads to wastage as many buy beyond their needs.
Second, ensure that all critical facilities that require regular face-to-face interaction have reserve masks in their inventory.
This should be done regularly for hospitals, clinics, police posts, civil defence, airport, public transport and other vital facilities.
Third, manufacturing plants should have the ability to switch to producing items essential during an outbreak such as surgical masks and hand sanitisers.
Fourth, ingrain hygiene habits in the public through long-term campaigns. People who are unwell should wear masks in public.
If it is serious, see a doctor to get medical leave; do not go to the office and spread your germs.
Children should be taught this from the time they are in kindergarten, so that good hygiene practices become part of their lifestyle.
Thomas Richard Prakasam