February 17, 2020 - 17:23 AMT
Hong Kong men stole 600 toilet paper rolls amid coronavirus

Police in Hong Kong have arrested two men and are searching for a third after the group stole about 600 toilet paper rolls, in a robbery likely sparked by coronavirus fears that have gripped the city, CNN reports.

Early Monday, February 17 morning, a delivery worker was transporting goods to a supermarket in the city's Mong Kok district. He had placed about 50 packs of toilet rolls, containing a total of about 600 rolls, outside the supermarket when three men stole them, a police spokesperson told CNN.

Several hours later, the police found the stolen toilet rolls in a nearby guesthouse, and arrested two of the men. They are investigating the incident as a robbery, and are still looking for the third suspect. No additional identifying information for the three men is available at this stage.

The robbery comes amid heightened fears of supply shortages in Hong Kong as the novel coronavirus outbreak continues to spread. The coronavirus, formally known as Covid-19, has infected more than 71,000 people globally, with 57 confirmed cases in Hong Kong. One person has died of the virus in the city -- marking one of only five deaths that have taken place outside mainland China.

Earlier this month, in an attempt to limit the spread of the virus, the Hong Kong government announced it would close some borders with mainland China -- sparking unsubstantiated rumors that supply chains from China would be cut off. Residents rushed to supermarkets to load up on supposedly endangered goods such as toilet paper rolls, rice, hand sanitizer, and other cleaning products.