There is “absolutely no reason” for the British public to panic buy food or other supplies due to coronavirus fears, the government’s chief scientific adviser has said.
Patrick Vallance said measures would be taken if homes were put under quarantine and appropriate steps taken for places such as care homes.
His comments came after Ocado warned that people are placing larger orders than usual and other supermarkets worked up contingency plans.
In some places, supermarket and pharmacy shelves have been cleared out of antibacterial gel and other supplies.
Speaking to reporters as the government’s battle plan was launched, Vallance 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.”
He stressed that people should follow advice from ministers, adding: “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.”
England’s chief medical officer, Professor Chris Whitty, who was also at the briefing, said behavioural science evidence showed that the “response of the British public to disasters and emergencies is extraordinary outbreaks of altruism”.
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