Supermarkets begin RATIONING as Tesco limits pasta, baked beans and hand sanitiser

Tesco has begun rationing the amount of pasta, baked beans and hand sanitiser per customer to stop shelves being stripped amid coronavirus fears. 

In a move to ensure the supermarket has enough supply, they have decided to limit the amount of dry pasta, UHT milk and baked bean tins that each customer can purchase. 

As well as the frequently purchased disaster goods, the store has decided to limit antibacterial gels, wipes, sprays and children’s cold medicine, Calpol.

Tesco confirmed that shoppers would be limited to five items on Saturday, adding that they would apply to online orders from tomorrow.  

The decision comes after shoppers were seen stripping supermarket aisles bare across the country, with footage emerging of frantic stockpilers pushing trolleys piled high with toilet rolls and forming huge queues. 

The panic sweeping UK supermarkets this weekend comes as the country saw its highest daily jump in coronavirus cases on Saturday, leaping by 45 to a total of 209.  

Tesco's baked bean section is completely plundered at this unspecified store on Thursday

Tesco's baked bean section is completely plundered at this unspecified store on Thursday

Tesco’s baked bean section is completely plundered at this unspecified store on Thursday 

Fruit and vegetables at this Tesco store in Milton, Cambridge, were raided yesterday by panicked buyers after the number of coronavirus cases in UK rose

Fruit and vegetables at this Tesco store in Milton, Cambridge, were raided yesterday by panicked buyers after the number of coronavirus cases in UK rose

Fruit and vegetables at this Tesco store in Milton, Cambridge, were raided yesterday by panicked buyers after the number of coronavirus cases in UK rose 

With the coronavirus emergency and the fear of restrictions people are stockpiling and emptying supermarket shelves. Empty shelves at a Tesco supermarket in Milton, Cambridge, UK yesterday

With the coronavirus emergency and the fear of restrictions people are stockpiling and emptying supermarket shelves. Empty shelves at a Tesco supermarket in Milton, Cambridge, UK yesterday

With the coronavirus emergency and the fear of restrictions people are stockpiling and emptying supermarket shelves. Empty shelves at a Tesco supermarket in Milton, Cambridge, UK yesterday

The Department of Health confirmed that cases in mainland Britain rose by 42 early on Saturday, before officials in Northern Ireland revealed another three cases on Saturday evening.

Overall, there are 184 confirmed cases in England, 16 in Scotland, seven in Northern Ireland and two in Wales.  

The update comes as an expert microbiologist warned the deadly coronavirus outbreak could peak at Easter and last for six months – with millions set to be infected. 

As cases rise, footage has surfaced of frantic shoppers descending on UK stores to stock up on goods. 

One video from Costco in Chingford, London yesterday showed checkouts flooded with shoppers at the wholesale warehouse chain.

The store was said to be ‘running short’ on water with shoppers ‘fighting’ over toilet rolls and being ‘limited’ to one each during the panic-buying.

Chopped tomatoes were also on the shopping list for frantic shoppers trying to stockpile as much from this Milton Tesco, in response to the growing numbers of coronavirus diagnoses in the UK

Chopped tomatoes were also on the shopping list for frantic shoppers trying to stockpile as much from this Milton Tesco, in response to the growing numbers of coronavirus diagnoses in the UK

Chopped tomatoes were also on the shopping list for frantic shoppers trying to stockpile as much from this Milton Tesco, in response to the growing numbers of coronavirus diagnoses in the UK 

In addition to non-perishable goods, shoppers have stocked up on hand wash and hand sanitizer at this unspecified Tesco, leading the supermarket giant to limit customers to five items each

In addition to non-perishable goods, shoppers have stocked up on hand wash and hand sanitizer at this unspecified Tesco, leading the supermarket giant to limit customers to five items each

In addition to non-perishable goods, shoppers have stocked up on hand wash and hand sanitizer at this unspecified Tesco, leading the supermarket giant to limit customers to five items each

Lee Kennedy, who filmed the footage of stockpilers in Costco, said: ‘It was all very over the top, people were fighting over toilet rolls and being limited to one per person. 

They were talking about putting restrictions on the bottled water as well.’ 

He added: ‘There were hardly any toilet rolls left and the water was running short. 

‘The queues were sneaking around the aisles and people were arguing about pushing in front of each other.  

‘It was okay, very hectic in there. One worker said it was worse than Christmas.’  

Another clip shows shelves in an Asda in Surrey stripped bare. The video was posted on Facebook, captioned: ‘Where has all the food, toilet paper and water gone?’ 

Hand sanitiser products have been selling for more than 5000% of their recommended retail price online, amid coronavirus hysteria.

Two people have died from the killer bug in Britain so far, a grandfather in his 80s in Milton Keynes and a woman in her 70s in Reading. 

Some 21,460 people have been tested. The previous largest increase in cases was 36 on Tuesday.

Microbiologist Peter Piot – known as the ‘Mick Jagger of microbiology’ – said the coronavirus threat has not been overhyped and that there are probably already a few thousand people in the UK infected, as cases appear to roughly double each week.

There are 29 confirmed cases in London, 24 in the south east, 22 in the south west and 21 in the north west.

Busy sporting venues are taking action to combat the spread of coronavirus, with Twickenham Stadium providing hand sanitizers at the 2020 Guinness Six Nations match between England and Wales. 

Another 42 coronavirus cases have been confirmed in Britain, bringing the total number of infections up to 206. Pictured: A graph shows the number of tests (blue), number of positive results (red) and the drastic increase in the amount of coronavirus tests on worried Britons (green)

Pictured: Tesco empty toilet roll shelves. People are stockpiling in the face of Coronavirus. Tesco and ASDA are amongst supermarkets that are struggling to meet demands of soap, pasta and toilet roll. Dated 3 March 2020

Pictured: Tesco empty toilet roll shelves. People are stockpiling in the face of Coronavirus. Tesco and ASDA are amongst supermarkets that are struggling to meet demands of soap, pasta and toilet roll. Dated 3 March 2020

Pictured: Tesco empty toilet roll shelves. People are stockpiling in the face of Coronavirus. Tesco and ASDA are amongst supermarkets that are struggling to meet demands of soap, pasta and toilet roll. Dated 3 March 2020 

Pictured: Tesco empty toilet roll shelves. People are stockpiling in the face of Coronavirus. Tesco and ASDA are amongst supermarkets that are struggling to meet demands of soap, pasta and toilet roll. Dated 3 March 2020

Pictured: Tesco empty toilet roll shelves. People are stockpiling in the face of Coronavirus. Tesco and ASDA are amongst supermarkets that are struggling to meet demands of soap, pasta and toilet roll. Dated 3 March 2020

Pictured: Tesco empty toilet roll shelves. People are stockpiling in the face of Coronavirus. Tesco and ASDA are amongst supermarkets that are struggling to meet demands of soap, pasta and toilet roll. Dated 3 March 2020

A bar in London also took precautions as a bouncer was photographed checking the temperature of guests last night as they entered a venue in The Shard.

Coffee shop chain Pret A Manger has told staff to wash their hands every 30 minutes – following the sound of an alarm – while those with beards have to wash their hands every time they touch their facial hair.

Scotland has confirmed five more cases of coronavirus with two new diagnoses in Lanarkshire while Lothian, Greater Glasgow and Clyde and Grampian have an extra one.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is due to chair a meeting of the Government’s Cobra civil contingencies committee on Monday as officials prepare to accelerate work on the delay phase of the Government’s plan to tackle the virus.

Elderly people are to be told to stay at home under new government guidelines as relatives are urged to check in on them. Both coronavirus fatalities were over 70 years old.

A few packets of antibacterial wipes are seen at a Tesco supermarket in Milton, Cambridge today

A few packets of antibacterial wipes are seen at a Tesco supermarket in Milton, Cambridge today

A few packets of antibacterial wipes are seen at a Tesco supermarket in Milton, Cambridge today 

Packet and jarred sauces were stripped from the shelves at this Tesco supermarket in Milton yesterda

Packet and jarred sauces were stripped from the shelves at this Tesco supermarket in Milton yesterda

Packet and jarred sauces were stripped from the shelves at this Tesco supermarket in Milton yesterda

With the coronavirus emergency and the fear of restrictions people are stockpiling and emptying supermarket shelves. Empty shelves at supermarket in Milton, Cambridge, UK yesterday

With the coronavirus emergency and the fear of restrictions people are stockpiling and emptying supermarket shelves. Empty shelves at supermarket in Milton, Cambridge, UK yesterday

With the coronavirus emergency and the fear of restrictions people are stockpiling and emptying supermarket shelves. Empty shelves at supermarket in Milton, Cambridge, UK yesterday

The elderly should be prepared for potentially isolating ‘social distancing’ policies, which are to be announcement by ministers next week, government sources said. 

As the number of confirmed UK cases rose, so did prices of hand sanitiser, with some bottles worth 49p were selling for £24.99. One eBay listing has seen a second-hand bottle of liquid soap sell for more than £5 – despite being only three-quarters full.  

The listing for the Lacura hand soap, which had a starting price of 99p, has had 13 bids, with the top bidder currently paying £4.20, plus £1.09 postage.

Other listings have seen a pack of two Carex Aloe Vera Hand Gel Antibacterial Sanitiser (50ml) listed for £25. That particular seller has already sold 14 multipacks of the gel for £10 per pair.

Liberty Marketing analysed the UK’s biggest supermarkets and health stores to see how much more own brand hand sanitisers are being sold for on eBay compared to in-store and found Lidl 49p sanitisers are selling for as much as £24.99 online.

Morrison’s £2 hand sanitiser is being sold for £29.99 – a 1,400 per cent increase.

Even frozen goods are hard to find at this Tesco in Milton, Cambridge, after supplies dwindled due to coronavirus panic-buying yesterday

Even frozen goods are hard to find at this Tesco in Milton, Cambridge, after supplies dwindled due to coronavirus panic-buying yesterday

Even frozen goods are hard to find at this Tesco in Milton, Cambridge, after supplies dwindled due to coronavirus panic-buying yesterday

Dwindling supplies has led Tesco to ration commonly bought 'disaster goods', like dry pasta, baked beans, and UHT milk

Dwindling supplies has led Tesco to ration commonly bought 'disaster goods', like dry pasta, baked beans, and UHT milk

Dwindling supplies has led Tesco to ration commonly bought ‘disaster goods’, like dry pasta, baked beans, and UHT milk 

Those listing Tesco’s own hand sanitisers are still making a 1,100 per cent profit, despite it being the lowest percentage increase out of them all. 

The Tesco Health Antibacterial Hand Gel (50ml) is just 75p in-store and is being sold for as much as £9 on eBay.

Other supermarkets included in the research include Asda with a 2,629 per cent increase and Morrisons with a 1,400 per cent increase, while Sainsbury’s did not sell its own brand.

However, health and beauty retailers were also analysed including Savers with a percentage increase of 2,525 per cent, Boots with an increase of 1,899 per cent and Superdrug with an increase of 1.538 per cent.

While undertaking the research, Liberty Marketing found every store, bar Superdrug, has sold out of hand sanitiser.

HR manager at Liberty Marketing Emily Webb said: ‘We, as a business, have been supplying extra anti-bacterial gels and tissues to all members of staff and ordering more than our standard batch, so it is no surprise that eBay sellers are seizing this opportunity to make some more money. 

Shelves in Asda in Sutton, Surrey are stripped bare

Shelves in Asda in Sutton, Surrey are stripped bare

The meat aisle in the Asda store was mostly empty

The meat aisle in the Asda store was mostly empty

A separate clip shows shelves in Asda in Sutton, Surrey, stripped bare. It comes as a grandfather in his 80s was the second person who died from coronavirus on UK soil yesterday

Pictured: Chopped tomatoes have flown off the shelves in a Tesco store. People have said they are setting up 'contingency plans' in case a disaster strikes in the UK

Pictured: Chopped tomatoes have flown off the shelves in a Tesco store. People have said they are setting up 'contingency plans' in case a disaster strikes in the UK

Pictured: Chopped tomatoes have flown off the shelves in a Tesco store. People have said they are setting up ‘contingency plans’ in case a disaster strikes in the UK

Pictured: Supermarket shelves have been seen stripped of home cleaning products

Pictured: Supermarket shelves have been seen stripped of home cleaning products

Pictured: Supermarket shelves have been seen stripped of home cleaning products

A view of an empty shelf out of stock of hand gel in a supermarket in London

A view of an empty shelf out of stock of hand gel in a supermarket in London

A view of an empty shelf out of stock of hand gel in a supermarket in London

‘Every business and individual should be taking extra measures to tackle personal hygiene and prevention of illnesses in the office and elsewhere.’

The anti-bacterial soap has sold out across the country, as shoppers have flocked to get their hands on a bottle.

The competition watchdog has warned retailers and traders they must not try and ‘take advantage of people’ concerned about the outbreak of coronavirus.

Officials at the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) said they would take strict action, and anyone trying to inflate prices could be fined under competition laws.

The number of people diagnosed with coronavirus in the UK as of 7am on Saturday has risen to 206 from 163 at 9am on Friday, the Department of Health said.

Hand sanitising gel is being stolen by visitors to Northampton General hospital on a daily basis as demand for the product grows amid the spread of coronavirus.

A woman raised the issue of 'panic buying'

A woman raised the issue of 'panic buying'

Matt Hancock pictured on BBC Question Time

Matt Hancock pictured on BBC Question Time

Pictured: Health Secretary Matt Hancock (right) responded after he was challenged by an audience member (left) on the BBC’s flagship Question Time programme

Pictured: BBC Question Time studio, where Health Secretary Matt Hancock was sent out by the Government to assuage public fears over the spread of the killer coronavirus

Pictured: BBC Question Time studio, where Health Secretary Matt Hancock was sent out by the Government to assuage public fears over the spread of the killer coronavirus

Pictured: BBC Question Time studio, where Health Secretary Matt Hancock was sent out by the Government to assuage public fears over the spread of the killer coronavirus

Britons who have travelled to any part of Italy who feel ill will be told to self-isolate

Pictured: Prof Chris Whitty arriving at Downing Street for an emergency COBRA meeting into the UK's 'coronavirus crisis'

Pictured: Prof Chris Whitty arriving at Downing Street for an emergency COBRA meeting into the UK's 'coronavirus crisis'

Pictured: Prof Chris Whitty arriving at Downing Street for an emergency COBRA meeting into the UK’s ‘coronavirus crisis’

Britons returning from the whole of Italy are to self-isolate if they develop symptoms of the deadly coronavirus.

Chief medical officer Professor Chris Witty said the current advice for those returning from northern Italy is to be extended to the whole of the country.

While confirming that the Government was still in the phase of containing the virus, entering the delay process is the ‘direction of travel’ for the future, Professor Whitty revealed.

Since the killer coronavirus reached British shores, the government and health bodies have been in the ‘contain’ phase, trying to stop the infection’s ability to spread. 

Hospital bosses said three wall-mounted dispensers have been ripped off, while visitors have used the hospital’s supply of sanitiser to ‘top up’ their own bottles.

It comes as a grandfather in his 80s became the second person who died from coronavirus on British soil yesterday. 

A woman in her 70s was the first UK victim after being diagnosed with coronavirus while at the Royal Berkshire Hospital in Reading.

The woman tested positive for the killer infection on Wednesday before succumbing to the illness.

Elderly people are to be told to stay at home under new Government guidelines to tackle the outbreak of the virus as health officials urge Britons to check in on their relatives. 

The elderly should be prepared for ‘social distancing’ policies, which are to be announcement by ministers next week, government sources said.

Advice will include the elderly staying at home and avoiding crowded areas which the Department of Health warned could leave people ‘cut off’. 

Guidelines also state that households should decide how their food will be delivered in case they have to self-isolate.

There are 206 confirmed UK cases of coronavirus, up from 163 on Friday.     

Matt Hancock was sent out by the Government last week to assuage public fears about the spread of the killer virus on the BBC’s Question Time. 

The Health Secretary, whose role in the handling of the disease has been reduced after Boris Johnson responded to criticisms of being a ‘part-time Prime Minister’ by taking the lead, appealed for people not to resort to ‘herd behaviour’ after an audience member complained food and medicine were in short supply.  

On the flagship programme, a woman voiced her concerns about panic-buying, asking: ‘How do we stop shortages?’ 

Mr Hancock continued to place confidence in the Government’s abilities to tackle the virus, after it came under fire from the WHO for its alleged complacency.

He said: ‘There is absolutely no need for individuals to go around buying more than they need.  

‘And in fact, part of the response of this has to be about us coming together. 

‘We are, after all, a herd. It’s the biology that is causing the problem.

‘Obviously, the very, very strong advice from the scientists, the medics, is that people should not go about buying more than they need.’ 

The Health Secretary's role in the handling of the disease has been reduced after Boris Johnson responded to criticisms of being a 'part-time Prime Minister' by taking the lead. Pictured: Empty shelves at a supermarket in Milton, Cambridge yesterday

The Health Secretary's role in the handling of the disease has been reduced after Boris Johnson responded to criticisms of being a 'part-time Prime Minister' by taking the lead. Pictured: Empty shelves at a supermarket in Milton, Cambridge yesterday

The Health Secretary’s role in the handling of the disease has been reduced after Boris Johnson responded to criticisms of being a ‘part-time Prime Minister’ by taking the lead. Pictured: Empty shelves at a supermarket in Milton, Cambridge yesterday 

Pictured: Empty soap shelves at an unknown Tesco store in the UK

Pictured: Empty soap shelves at an unknown Tesco store in the UK

Pictured: Empty soap shelves at an unknown Tesco store in the UK 

A woman is pictured eyeing up the empty Tesco shelves on 5 March, after people rushed to the supermarkets to stockpile non-perishable items amid coronavirus fears

A woman is pictured eyeing up the empty Tesco shelves on 5 March, after people rushed to the supermarkets to stockpile non-perishable items amid coronavirus fears

A woman is pictured eyeing up the empty Tesco shelves on 5 March, after people rushed to the supermarkets to stockpile non-perishable items amid coronavirus fears

People can be seen loading their trolleys amid coronavirus outbreak concerns on 5 March 2020

People can be seen loading their trolleys amid coronavirus outbreak concerns on 5 March 2020

People can be seen loading their trolleys amid coronavirus outbreak concerns on 5 March 2020

Doctor leading search for coronavirus vaccine says it’s the most frightening disease he’s ever encountered 

A doctor spearheading the search for a coronavirus vaccine today said it is the most frightening thing he has ever encountered and far more deadly than flu – as he revealed fighting it will be like a war.

Dr Richard Hatchett, who heads up the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, said governments need to adopt an ‘aggressive’ response to tackle the virus as he revealed it could take between 12-18 months to develop a vaccine and cost £1.5bn ($2bn).

Dr Hatchett said that what we are seeing is a virus that is ‘many many times more lethal than flu’ and a population that is ‘completely vulnerable to it’ as he fears it might explode further across the globe and the UK.

He cited a quote from a World Health Organisation official who returned from China and described the situation as ‘like a war’.

Dr Hatchett said: ‘I don’t think it is a crazy analogy to compare this to World War II. The World Health Organisation is using those kinds of terms. They have seen what this virus is capable of doing.’

Speaking to Channel 4 News, he said: ‘I’ve been working on epidemic preparedness for about 20 years and completely dispassionately without elevating the temperature or speaking hyperbolically.

‘This is the most frightening disease I’ve ever encountered in my career, and that includes Ebola, it includes MERS and it includes SARS.

‘I think the most concerning thing about this virus is the combination of infectiousness and the ability to cause severe disease or death.’  

The Government revealed its four-stage plan earlier this week that includes a raft of socially and economically costly contingency moves as a last resort.

The 28-page ‘action plan’ was agreed at the first emergency Cobra meeting to be chaired by the PM on Monday in which it was explained there are four stages – contain, delay, research and mitigate – to dealing with the virus.

MailOnline has contacted Costco for comment.

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Supermarkets to stockpile supplies in coronavirus ‘hotspots’ to prevent food from running short 

Supermarkets will rush food supplies to coronavirus ‘hotspots’ in the UK as part of an emergency plan to prevent empty shelves.

Environment Secretary George Eustice will hold crunch talks today with supermarket chiefs, aimed at stopping panic buying and ensuring Britain’s food supply is not disrupted in areas worst affected by the outbreak.

The move comes after shoppers stripped supermarket shelves of essentials such as food, toilet rolls and medicines yesterday.

In a meeting last Friday, major retailers asked the Government to share its data on the areas of the country where large numbers of Covid-19 cases are confirmed. 

This would then allow them to move extra supplies to replenish under-pressure supermarkets in those areas.

They have also asked ministers to scrap curfew rules that ban lorries from delivering food to stores in the middle of the night.

Whitehall officials examined the proposals last weekend and they will be discussed today.

They will also consider how the supermarkets will deliver food to elderly people and other vulnerable groups who are forced to ‘self-isolate’ because of the epidemic.

This comes amid growing concern over how retailers will cope with a surge in customers ordering online and demanding home deliveries. 

Online deliveries currently make up only about seven per cent of total grocery sales and it is feared supermarkets will not have enough vans or drivers to cope with a spike in demand.  

Panic buying and stockpiling of toilet roll continues. These are the scenes at Costco in Farnborough in Hampshire on Saturday

Panic buying and stockpiling of toilet roll continues. These are the scenes at Costco in Farnborough in Hampshire on Saturday

Panic buying and stockpiling of toilet roll continues. These are the scenes at Costco in Farnborough in Hampshire on Saturday

Britain's Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs George Eustice is seen outside Downing Street in London

Britain's Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs George Eustice is seen outside Downing Street in London

Britain’s Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs George Eustice is seen outside Downing Street in London

Chopped tomatoes have flown off the shelves in a Tesco store. People have said they are setting up 'contingency plans' in case a disaster strikes in the UK

Chopped tomatoes have flown off the shelves in a Tesco store. People have said they are setting up 'contingency plans' in case a disaster strikes in the UK

Chopped tomatoes have flown off the shelves in a Tesco store. People have said they are setting up ‘contingency plans’ in case a disaster strikes in the UK

Coronavirus outbreak could peak in the UK at Easter and last for another six months

By Amelia Wynne for MailOnline

Britain’s deadly coronavirus outbreak could peak at Easter and last for six months – with millions set to be infected.

A big increase in British diagnoses is expected as the virus is now being transmitted in the community and testing is being ramped up.

Expert Peter Piot – known as the ‘Mick Jagger of microbiology’ – says that the threat has not been overhyped and that there are probably already a few thousand people in the UK infected, as cases appear to roughly double each week.

Speaking to The Times he said that we will reach a peak of the epidemic somewhere around Easter.

It comes as two people have died from the virus – which has a mortality rate of 15 per cent in those over 80 – on British soil so far, both of whom were elderly.

Even once it reaches its peak, coronavirus chaos could last for another six months – infecting millions of people as the UK is ravaged by the disease.

Dr Piot added: ‘If it goes down in April or May it could come back again in November,’ adding that there is currently no vaccine and that ‘medieval ways of containment’ are being used so far.

The expert said that due to the likeliness the illness will return next winter it is vital to plough resources into making a vaccine.

His comments come as Sir Patrick Vallance, Chief Scientific Adviser to the Government, warned Britain was at the start of an outbreak. 

As a result, retail bosses want the Government to extend the maximum number of driving hours for delivery drivers. 

The emergency plan comes after supermarket sources last week cast doubt on assurances made by Health Secretary Matt Hancock, who said that food supplies would not be disrupted by the outbreak.

But sales of cupboard basics such as pasta and tinned goods have rocketed, and shelves in some stores have emptied. 

Incidents of panic buying have also increased.

A video posted on Twitter yesterday showed shoppers at a Costco in Farnborough, Hampshire, frantically stockpiling toilet rolls.

Supermarket bosses are also planning for how to cope should large numbers of staff get ill.

A Downing Street source last night said: ‘Government and industry will remain in regular contact on this issue, and we stand ready to work with retailers to ensure that the UK’s resilient food supply is maintained.’ 

People can be seen queuing at tills at an unknown Tesco in the UK amid coronavirus concerns

People can be seen queuing at tills at an unknown Tesco in the UK amid coronavirus concerns

People can be seen queuing at tills at an unknown Tesco in the UK amid coronavirus concerns

Pictured: Tesco is packed on the 5 March, full of customers stockpiling

Pictured: Tesco is packed on the 5 March, full of customers stockpiling

Pictured: Tesco is packed on the 5 March, full of customers stockpiling

——————————————————————————————————————— 

Coronavirus tests could be rationed amid global shortage as number of cases in the UK soars 

Tests for coronavirus may soon be rationed as the epidemic accelerates and the NHS struggles to cope with demand.

Some people fearful they have the Covid‑19 virus are already waiting close to a week for results, but as suspected cases soar and NHS testing capacity is stretched, health bosses have signalled they are considering limiting tests to those most in need. 

A spokeswoman for Public Health England last night insisted the current policy is to test all patients who meet the relevant criteria but made clear rationing is being discussed. 

‘The decision to stop testing for symptomatic individuals will be a graded approach. Thresholds [for testing] are under discussion with experts,’ she said.

Health bosses have signalled they are considering limiting tests to those most in need (pictured, someone is tested in Northern Ireland)

Health bosses have signalled they are considering limiting tests to those most in need (pictured, someone is tested in Northern Ireland)

Health bosses have signalled they are considering limiting tests to those most in need (pictured, someone is tested in Northern Ireland) 

An Emergency Department Nurse during a demonstration of the Coronavirus pod and COVID-19 virus testing procedures set-up beside the Emergency Department of Antrim Area Hospital, Co Antrim in Northern Ireland

An Emergency Department Nurse during a demonstration of the Coronavirus pod and COVID-19 virus testing procedures set-up beside the Emergency Department of Antrim Area Hospital, Co Antrim in Northern Ireland

An Emergency Department Nurse during a demonstration of the Coronavirus pod and COVID-19 virus testing procedures set-up beside the Emergency Department of Antrim Area Hospital, Co Antrim in Northern Ireland

Rationing would probably involve younger, healthy people who show potential symptoms being told to presume they have the virus. 

They would be ordered to go home, self-isolate and care for themselves until the illness passes. 

For the vast majority of healthy under-50s, the virus should be no worse than a bad dose of flu.

Concentrating testing capacity on older people and those with underlying health conditions, who are much more vulnerable to coronavirus, would best enable doctors to identify who needs intensive support.

The number of tests carried out per day has doubled to around 2,000 in the last week and will double again within the coming weeks. 

Nonetheless, demand is soon expected to exceed capacity. 

The Mail on Sunday is aware of at least six cases where healthy under-50s have had to endure lengthy waits, either to get a test or for results.

In one, an NHS worker and her daughter who became ill after a half-term Italian ski trip had to wait two days to have a test – and a further five for results.

PHE says ‘prioritisation is not currently in place’ and that it is ‘committed to processing the vast majority of samples within 24 hours’. As of yesterday, 21,254 tests had been carried out across the UK.

 

Link hienalouca.com

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