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Tokyo hit by panic buying as residents fear tighter coronavirus curbs

Shelves emptied ahead of spate of weekend closures at stores and restaurants

A shopper at a Tokyo supermarket browses empty instant noodle shelves on March 26. (Photo by Ken Kobayashi)

TOKYO -- Japanese consumers rushed to stock up on food and essential goods as uncertainty mounted about a possible Tokyo lockdown to try to stem a rise in coronavirus cases.

At grocery stores and markets, shoppers left shelves bare. "I thought it would be best to stock up because we don't know what could happen," said a woman at Nikuno Hanamasa, a wholesale market in Tokyo's central Chuo Ward. "I have two kids and am afraid there won't be enough to eat if there is a lockdown."

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