00:14 GMT04 April 2020
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    As Britain’s death toll creeps closer and closer to the 200 mark, with not far off 4,000 under the spell of the disease, shoppers across the country are storming supermarket aisles and stripping the shelves clean - but at what cost?

    The Director of Britain’s National Health Service (NHS) has told shoppers who have been panic-buying products that they should be “ashamed” of themselves.

    Speaking at today’s daily government briefing on the coronavirus, Stephen Powis called for people to cease stockpiling items and to think about the needs of others, particularly frontline NHS workers such as doctors and nurses, who are often left without much to choose from on supermarket shelves after consumer panic-buying sprees. Products such as toilet roll, pasta and rice have almost entirely disappeared from the shelves in recent days in stores across the UK.

    At the conference, Mr Powis implored, “I would like to make a plea on behalf of all my colleagues in the NHS, nurses, doctors, paramedics and many, many others who are working incredibly hard at the moment to manage this outbreak of coronavirus.”

    “It’s incredibly important that they too have access to food, to those essential supplies that they need,” he added.

    ​The health chief made his remarks on the heels of a viral video in which a critical care nurse broke down in tears after faced with empty shelves following a long and tiring shift at her hospital aiding patients with COVID-19. In the video, the nurse tearfully explains that after a two-day long emotional shift, she was unable to buy even the basics, such as fruit and vegetables.

    Pointing to that video in the press conference, Mr Powis said that, “frankly, we should all be ashamed that that has to happen - it’s unacceptable. These are the very people that we all need to look after perhaps us or our lived ones in the weeks to come.”

    At the same briefing, Environment Secretary George Eustice told Brits that there is “no shortage” of food. Asked whether the UK may be forced into rationing food stocks, he said that, “food manufacturing has geared up to meet an increase in demand and it is up by 50%.” He went on to say call for Brits to be “responsible when you shop. Buying more than you need means that others may be left without.”

    The comments come as Boris Johnson’s government has set up what has been described as a “war room” for food industry executives to oversee and coordinate measures against the panic-buying in order to ensure the UK’s food security. In one measure, supermarkets nationwide are fast recruiting thousands of temporary workers to help deal with the increased consumer demand as the COVID-19 crisis continues to generate public hysteria.

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    Coronavirus Pandemic: Borders Shut, Public Events Cancelled (257)
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