Some supermarkets are limiting how much food customers can buy to discourage stockpiling

Supermarkets across the UK have started placing restrictions on certain items after a wave of panic buying over the weekend left shelves bare of necessities.

Antibacterial hand soap, dried pasta, and long life milk, were some of the main products that customers were stockpiling due to paranoia around the ongoing coronavirus outbreak.

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Public Health England urged people to "think ahead" as cases of Covid-19 rise, but some shoppers took this to mean "stockpile" and began clearing shops of essentials.

The Government's chief scientific adviser, Sir Patrick Vallace, stated there is no reason for the public in the UK to panic buy. But Tesco reported it had almost entirely run out of dried pasta online.

Which supermarkets are limiting food purchases?

Tesco has now introduced a five item limit on a number of products. These include dried pasta, as well as antibacterial wipes, gels and sprays. Long life milk is also limited.

Asda has limited hand sanitiser to two bottles per person, both in-store and online, but has no food restrictions. Many of their antibacterial products are out of stock online.

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Waitrose has restrictions that only apply to online shops, and on certain antibacterial soaps and wipes.

Sainsbury's, Lidl, Ocado, and Aldi have so far placed no restrictions on their stock.

Is panic buying necessary?

Confirmed cases of the Covid-19 strain of coronavirus continue to rise globally.

Around the world, people are panic buying toiletries, such as toilet roll. A fight broke out in a supermarket in Australia, leading two women being charged with assault, over toilet roll.

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Hand sanitisers and face masks can be found for sale online at extortionate prices. Some hand gels were selling for 50 times their retail price. Lidl hand sanitiser was being sold for upwards of £29 per bottle on eBay.

One eBay listing has seen a second-hand bottle of liquid soap sell for more than £5 - despite being only three-quarters full.

Coronavirus: the facts

What is coronavirus?COVID-19 is a respiratory illness that can affect lungs and airways. It is caused by a virus called coronavirus.

What caused coronavirus?The outbreak started in Wuhan in China in December 2019 and it is thought that the virus, like others of its kind, has come from animals.

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How is it spread?As this is such a new illness, experts still aren’t sure how it is spread. But.similar viruses are spread in cough droplets. Therefore covering your nose and mouth when sneezing and coughing, and disposing of used tissues straight away is advised. Viruses like coronavirus cannot live outside the body for very long.

What are the symptoms?The NHS states that the symptoms are: a dry cough, high temperature and shortness of breath - but these symptoms do not necessarily mean you have the illness. Look out for flu-like symptoms, such as aches and pains, nasal congestion, runny nose and a sore throat. It’s important to remember that some people may become infected but won’t develop any symptoms or feel unwell.

What precautions can be taken?Washing your hands with soap and water thoroughly. The NHS also advises to cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when you cough or sneeze; put used tissues in the bin immediately and try to avoid close contact with people who are unwell. Also avoiding touching eyes, nose and mouth unless your hands are clean.

Should I avoid public places?Most people who feel well can continue to go to work, school and public places and should only stay at home and self isolate if advised by a medical professional or the coronavirus service.

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What should I do if I feel unwell?Don’t go to your GP but instead call NHS 111 or look online at the coronavirus service that can tell you if you need medical help and what to do next.

When to call NHS 111NHS 111 should be used if you feel unwell with coronavirus symptoms, have been in a country with a high risk of coronavirus in the last 14 days or if you have been in close contact with someone with the virus.

Sources: World Health Organisation and NHS