The government will ensure there is enough food for everyone in the UK as the number of coronavirus cases rises, the health secretary has said.
Despite numerous warnings against panic buying, shoppers have reported seeing empty shelves in supermarkets across Britain as essentials like toilet roll and paracetamol sell-out.
Matt Hancock said: ‘The Government has supplies of the key things that are needed, and, within the food supply, we are absolutely confident that there won’t be a problem there. And, crucially, we are working to makes sure that if people are self isolating, they will be able to get the food and supplies that they need.’
It comes as an older patient, reported to be a woman in her 70s, became the first person in the UK to die after being diagnosed with coronavirus.
Making the statements during BBC’s Question Time, Mr Hancock said there was ‘absolutely no need’ for individual people ‘to go round buying more than they need’.
He added: ‘The very, very strong advice from the scientists, from the medics, is that people should not go buying more than they need.’
Mr Hancock also told anyone self-isolating with coronavirus to stay away from their own family members as much as possible and to wipe down shared surfaces such as in bathrooms.
He said: ‘People should try to self-isolate from their families, not only go home, try not to go out shopping, definitely don’t use public transport, but within your own home you should also try to self-isolate.’
He said that, as the father of three children, he understood that ‘can be difficult and some people have caring responsibilities’, but people should try to keep to themselves as much as possible.
Washing hands properly with soap and hot water as well as disinfecting items used daily – particularly mobile phones – are the biggest tools people have in fighting the disease, health experts have said.
In the UK, the number of cases of Covid-19 has surged to 116, more than doubling in 48 hours. Downing Street has warned it is ‘highly likely’ the virus will spread throughout Britain ‘in a significant way’.
Hospital bosses have confirmed that one of the latest people to test positive for the virus is a child being treated at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital in Liverpool.
Meanwhile, 142 people from the UK are being held in quarantine on a cruise ship off the coast of California.
The Grand Princess cruise ship went into lockdown following advice from the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention and ‘all guests have been asked to stay in their rooms while test results are pending’.
It came after a former passenger of the ship became the first in the US state to die of the disease.
Health chiefs have said Britons diagnosed with coronavirus who show only ‘very minimal’ symptoms should self-isolate at home rather than in hospital, while new advice was issued to travellers returning to the UK from anywhere in Italy that they should self-isolate if they develop symptoms.
England’s chief medical officer, proffesor Chris Whitty, has said half of all coronavirus cases in the UK are most likely to occur in just a three-week period, with 95% of them over a nine-week period.
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