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Coronavirus: UK panic-buyers urged to think of frontline workers | World news

The UK government is urging people to “be responsible when [they] shop and think of others” as panic-buying continues in response to the coronavirus crisis.

The environment secretary, George Eustice, who stood in for Boris Johnson on Saturday for the government’s daily briefing, said that when people took more than they needed it made things difficult for frontline workers, such as NHS staff.

He asked people to think of those finishing their late shifts and going to a supermarket to find empty shelves.

“We recognise that this is a challenging time and there are many things the government is asking the nation to do differently as we work together to fight this pandemic,” he said. “Be responsible when you shop and think of others. Buying more than you need means others may be left without.

“We all have a role to play in ensuring we all come through this together.”

He thanked supermarket and food industry workers “who are doing so much to deliver such a crucial service”.

Eustice was joined at the Downing Street press briefing by the British Retail Consortium chief executive, Helen Dickinson, who stressed that supplies were holding up.

“There is plenty of food in the supply chain,” she said. 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.”

NHS England’s national medical director, Stephen Powis, said panic buyers were depriving NHS staff of the supplies they needed, adding: “Frankly we should all be ashamed.”

The press conference followed a meeting between Johnson and supermarket bosses about panic buying on Saturday.

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