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UK gov't urges end to panic buying as virus deaths hit 233

'There is a billion pounds more food in people’s houses than there was three weeks ago,' says British retail chief

Karim El-Bar   | 21.03.2020
UK gov't urges end to panic buying as virus deaths hit 233 FILE PHOTOT

LONDON

The British government urged its citizens on Saturday to stop panic buying and stockpiling as shelves continue to be empty across the country amid the coronavirus outbreak.

Secretary of State for Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs George Eustice asked people to be responsible when they shop and think of others during a daily news conference.

His comments came as the latest National Health Service figures revealed that the death toll from coronavirus across the U.K. reached 233.

He said people should think in particular of key workers, such as National Healthcare Service staff, who could not find supplies after finishing their shifts. He also thanked workers in the supermarket and wider food industry for their “crucial service.”

“We need people to calm down and only buy what they need and think of others when they are purchasing,” Eustice said.

“Buying more than you need means others may be left without,” he said. “We all have a role to play in ensuring we all come through this together.”

Eustice spoke alongside Stephen Powis, England’s national medical director for National Healthcare Service, and the British Retail Consortium’s chief executive Helen Dickinson.

Dickinson said: “There is plenty of food in the supply chain. There is a billion pounds more food in people’s houses than there was three weeks ago, so we should make sure we eat some of it.”

The virus emerged in Wuhan, China last December, and has spread to at least 167 countries and regions, according to data compiled by the U.S.-based Johns Hopkins University.

With more than 297,000 confirmed cases, the death toll now nears 12,800, while more than 91,500 have recovered.

Despite the rising number of cases, most of the people who contract the virus suffer only mild symptoms and recover.

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