Video: Indonesian Store Owner Calmly Handles Coronavirus Panic, Refuses to Price Gouge


The owner of a grocery store in the Indonesian capital of Jakarta was widely praised across social media after refusing to panic about the coronavirus outbreak, which was officially confirmed as active in Indonesia on Monday.

Footage of 57-year-old shopkeeper Susanna Indrayani went viral across social media as she was seen urging customers to refrain from stocking up on goods over fears that a major outbreak was imminent.

Part of her conversation was translated by Indonesians online, where Susanna refused to sell items in bulk or at elevated prices in an attempt to calm her customers:

SUSANNA: In a condition like this, I won’t raise the price unless it’s raised from the factory.

CUSTOMER: What about Indomie?

SUSANNA: I deliberately stocked up so I can sell them to roadside sellers at the normal price.

CUSTOMER: Now this is the real deal, that’s fair.

Susanna’s store was reportedly stormed by customers following President Joko Widodo’s announcement on Monday that a mother and daughter had tested positive for the coronavirus, something she had never experienced before.

Talking to the Indonesian outlet Tribun on Thursday, Indrayani said she was surprised by her viral fame and insisted she was just an ordinary person.

“Well, the reason why I refused customers who wanted to buy in bulk was because everything should be shared so that everyone can get what they need. That’s what I had in mind,” she told Tribun on Thursday. “Maybe people were moved by the video… I couldn’t imagine that it could get this big. I’m just an ordinary person.”

On Monday, the Indonesian Health Ministry followed up Wikodo’s announcement by formally declaring the outbreak a “dangerous communicable disease” under the 2015 Communicable Disease Act, thus granting the authorities the power to impose quarantine on individuals suspected of carrying the disease. It also allows security to shut down any event or venue, including the recent spate of anti-government student demonstrations.

The country had been marred by weeks of confusion over whether to take precautions over the virus, which originated in the Chinese city of Wuhan, after the Indonesian government repeatedly denied claims about its existence. This was despite the fact that neighboring countries including South Korea and Malaysia had already confirmed thousands of cases nationwide, while many foreign nationals returned to their home countries only to contract the virus soon after.

Such confusion was only exacerbated by religious Indonesian officials who claimed the Islamic country was being protected by divine intervention. The lack of clarity has been worsened by the fact that scientists are yet to prove exactly where and how foreign nationals, many of whom were holidaying on the island of Bali, had contracted the virus.

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