SEOUL, March 3 (UPI) -- Frenzied South Koreans are hoarding food, daily necessities and personal hygiene items as COVID-19 continues to disrupt life across the country.
In particular, people are stockpiling ramyoen, Korean instant noodles similar to Japanese ramen. As they fly off retailers' shelves, manufacturers are struggling to meet the demand.
Nongshim, the country's largest ramyeon maker, saw its sales jump more than 50 percent during the last week of February compared to a year ago.
The Seoul-based company said Tuesday it runs its factories around the clock, but demand outpaces supply. Samyang Food, which ranks third in ramyeon sales, told UPI News Korea its weekly orders have almost doubled.
Online sales of the products also greatly increased, according to G-Market, one of the country's leading online retailers. Its ramyeon sales in February rose 30 percent year-on-year.
Against this backdrop, discount chains like E-Mart put a cap on the number of remyeon packages people can purchase at a time.
Last month, convenience store franchises such as GS25 and CU restricted the number of some ramyeon products that its customers can order at a time. Their ramyeon sales rose 46.4 percent and 10.2 percent in February respectively, compared to a year before.
South Korea has seen hundreds of new COVID-19 infections a day since the outbreak in China last December. South Korea has the largest cluster of confirmed cases outside China.
By Tuesday evening, the number of coronavirus cases in South Korea topped 5,186, with 31 deaths reported.