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Coronavirus rumors fuel panic buying of toilet paper in Japan

Retailers and suppliers appeal for calm amid long lines and surging prices

Social media-fueled rumors that toilet paper will soon disappear have led to price spikes and stores running out of stock in Japan.

TOKYO -- Panicked Japanese consumers are stripping shelves bare of toilet paper, as unsubstantiated rumors of shortages stemming from the new coronavirus epidemic circulate on social media, sending prices soaring.

"There are plenty [of supplies]. We would like consumers to take action based on correct information," pleaded Hirofumi Hayashi, chairman of the Japan Tissue Industry Association.

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