Pictures of near-empty supermarket shelves suggest that coronavirus panic buying is far from over in the UK, as 115 people test positive for the deadly bug.
Images taken in New Malden, a suburb of south-west London, show shelves almost stripped bare of toilet roll, as people appear to stock up in anticipation of a further outbreak.
A scarce amount of chilled food, including pasta, also seems to remain in the store – despite officials claiming there is ‘no need’ to stock up.
It is not uncommon for supermarkets to have empty shelves as they restock items, and experts believe there’s a chance shoppers may simply be more sensitive to seeing them as the coronavirus spreads across Britain.
However, the pictures emerge as one panic buying argument almost turned deadly when a knife was allegedly pulled out in a Woolworths store in Sydney, Australia.
The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has threatened to prosecute traders and retailers who try to take advantage of the coronavirus outbreak after the price of hand sanitiser and toilet roll was sent soaring online.
Officers said they are considering asking the government to introduce prince controls and will consider any evidence that companies may have broken competition or consumer protection law by charging excessive prices or making misleading claims about the effectiveness of products to fight off the disease.
Boris Johnson has urged people to continue as they normally would, with most essentials still widely available in shops.
The government’s chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance has also told everyone to remain calm, saying: ‘I think the advice is that there is absolutely no reason to be doing any panic buying of any sort or going out and keeping large supplies of things.
‘Clearly there will need to be measures in cases of household quarantine for making sure food is in the right place at the right time but we imagine that could be a rolling case of household quarantine if that measure becomes necessary, and clearly things will need to be in place for care homes and so on if that decision is made.’
Stressing that people should follow advice from ministers, he added: ‘What you don’t want is to end up in a position where people end up socially isolated in the wrong way and you certainly don’t want a situation where people are afraid to come to their front door for fear of catching something.’
On Thursday, another 25 people have tested positive for coronavirus in 24 hours, bringing the total number of UK cases to 115.
England’s top doctor Professor Chris Whitty has said efforts to battle coronavirus have now entered the next phase to reduce the speed at which the disease is spreading rather than contain it.
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