Coronavirus: Government reassures public supplies will not run out amid fears of panic buying

Empty shelves where pasta was on sale in an ASDA store (Picture: Getty)

The Government has reassured the public they will have “the food and supplies they need”  amid fears of panic buying as a result of the coronavirus outbreak.

There have been reports across the country of empty shelves as worried shoppers stock up on items.

High street health stores Superdrug and Boots have both placed a two-bottle limit on the number of hand sanitisers customers can purchase.

The Government has confirmed it has held talks with supermarkets to ensure the shelves will stay stocked with items.

In the UK there have been 164 confirmed cases of coronavirus, with two people dying and eight recovering, according to John Hopkins.

Read more: People are stealing hand sanitiser from hospitals

The number of coronavirus cases in Europe (Picture: PA)

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said there was "absolutely no need" for panic buying and added he was working with food suppliers to ensure people who were self-isolating would have the supplies they needed.

UK Environment Secretary George Eustice added: “Today I spoke with chief executives from the UK’s leading supermarkets to discuss their response to coronavirus.

“The retailers reassured me they have well-established contingency plans and are taking all the necessary steps to ensure consumers have the food and supplies they need.

“Retailers are continuing to monitor their supply chains and have robust plans in place to minimise disruption.

“I was particularly keen to hear how government could support their preparations and we’ve agreed to work closely together over the coming days and weeks.”

Read more: Where are the coronavirus cases in the UK?

An infectious disease specialist has warned against mass panic and stockpiling as infections from the Covid-19 coronavirus continue to spread across the world.

Doctor Abdu Sharkawy of the University of Toronto’s Division of Infectious Disease wrote on Facebook that he was not scared of the virus, but was scared of the implications of mass panic.

He said: “What I am scared about is the loss of reason and wave of fear that has induced the masses of society into a spellbinding spiral of panic, stockpiling obscene quantities of anything that could fill a bomb shelter adequately in a post-apocalyptic world.”

Read more: Teenagers arrested over 'racially motivated coronavirus attack'

People queue outside a Boots pharmacy store in west London where stocks of hand sanitiser are limited to two per person (Picture: Getty)

The global death toll from coronavirus has risen above 3,400, with more than 102,000 cases and 57,000 recoveries now reported.

The 102,000 figure of global infections dwarfs other major outbreaks in recent decades, such as Sars, Mers and Ebola.

But the virus is still much less widespread than annual flu epidemics, which result in up to five million annual severe cases around the world and 290,000-650,000 deaths each year, according to the World Health Organisation.