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Signs of panic buying in Norfolk supermarkets due to coronavirus outbreak

PUBLISHED: 12:02 08 March 2020 | UPDATED: 09:13 09 March 2020

Sarah Harding and her daughter came across sparse shelves in the toilet roll section at the Tesco store in Harford. Picture: Sarah Harding

Sarah Harding and her daughter came across sparse shelves in the toilet roll section at the Tesco store in Harford. Picture: Sarah Harding

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Customers have been faced with empty shelves at shops across Norfolk following a rush to stock up on items in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak.

Asda in Norwich on Thursday 5 March at 1pm in the liquid soap aisle. Picture: Nicky RamplingAsda in Norwich on Thursday 5 March at 1pm in the liquid soap aisle. Picture: Nicky Rampling

Toilet roll, hand sanitiser and wash, paracetamol and pasta are among the items which have been snapped up.

On Tuesday, the chief science officer Sir Patrick Vallance said there was "absolutely no reason" to panic as the government launched its action plan.

He said: "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."

Social media users describe aisles as looking "bleak" on long lasting items such as rice and pasta in stores in the region since Thursday afternoon.

Sarah Harding took a photo at the Tesco store in Harford when she and her daughter came across sparse shelves in the toilet roll section.

Another shopper commented said: "I've used hand gel for years and made to feel guilty for asking if shops have any.

"I always buy Detol soap for my 93-year-old mum because that is what she and I like. I'll save my two bars I have for her and I'll use what I can find.

"Crazy to panic buy this is what cause shortages."

Boots in Castle Mall on Saturday. Picture: Lesley HardyBoots in Castle Mall on Saturday. Picture: Lesley Hardy

Many have raised concerns for people unable to shop regularly due to financial reasons or reduced mobility.

Downham Market Town Council has urged people to follow government advice not to stockpile toilet roll, medicines or anything else.

The council wrote: Those less fortunate in our community do not have the means to be buying grocieries in bulk and need to be able to purchase items on a daily basis and we would therefore ask that people behave sensibly."

Shoppers reported it was "hard to come by" anti-bacterial hand gel, soap, anti-bacterial wipes for the kitchen and bathroom kitchen were described as hard to come by in Home Bargains.

Lidl Caister toilet roll aisle on Saturday evening. Picture: Lisa CullenderLidl Caister toilet roll aisle on Saturday evening. Picture: Lisa Cullender

There was not much success either for online shoppers who have reported supermarkets have closed online orders early or unable to deliver items due to a shortage.

One Facebook user said: "We had shopping delivered last night, no pasta, no packet of pasta and sauce.

No baked beans just reduced sugar one that are smaller."

On Thursday, Dr Louise Smith, director of Public Health England for Norfolk, has urged people to be prepared and think of others who may be in need.

Toilet roll shelf in Tesco at Stalham on Saturday. Picture: Pip PrinceToilet roll shelf in Tesco at Stalham on Saturday. Picture: Pip Prince

Speaking to this paper, she said: "Think about how you would organise things if that happened, think about not getting bored or isolated have lots of phone numbers.

"Do you have friends, family or neighbours that might need a little bit of extra help?"

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