Supermarket shelves across the country are emptying as members of the public appear to take drastic action amid the coronavirus outbreak.

And stores in Hertfordshire, a county in which positive cases of Covid-19 have been confirmed, are no different.

Images from supermarkets in Watford, Borehamwood, St Albans, and Hemel Hempstead, show empty shelves of toilet rolls, soap, medicines, pasta, and rice, with store bosses even putting up signs notifying shoppers that some products, which people seem desparate to get their hands on like hand sanitizers, are not in stock.

It's led to calls from the public to limit the amount of goods shoppers can buy in one purchase.

Tesxo has said it will begin limiting the amount of products some customers buy like pasta and medicines - and online too.

Watford Observer:

An empty shelf of soap at Sainsbury's in St Albans

Watford Observer:


Pasta section at Sainsbury's St Albans. The shelves where rice and medicine tablets are stored were also almost empty

Watford Observer:

No hand sanitizer in stock at Sainsbury's in St Albans

Watford Observer:

The Range, St Albans

Videos and pictures have also gone viral of trolleys filled with dozens of the same product, like toilet rolls at Costco in Bushey.

So what is the official advice on 'panic buying' and stockpiling goods?

Health Secretary Matt Hancock says there is "absolutely no need" for individuals "to go round buying more than they need".

He added that the Government is working with supermarkets to ensure food supplies, with the number of people self-isolating expected to rise.

He sought to reassure the public following panic-buying in some areas, with supermarkets seeing their shelves cleared of essentials.

Speaking on BBC One's Question Time, Mr Hancock said: "The Government has supplies of the key things that are needed and, within the food supply, we are absolutely confident that there won't be a problem there.

"And, crucially, we are working to make sure that if people are self-isolating, they will be able to get the food and supplies that they need."

One supermarket executive told the BBC sales of basics such as pasta and tinned goods had "gone through the roof", adding: "While I think people don't need to panic buy and should just shop normally, I'm not sure the Government can guarantee all food supply in all instances."

However, Environment Secretary George Eustice said he has been reassured by retailers that they are taking "all the necessary steps to ensure consumers have the food and supplies they need".

However, new blog posts from Public Health England (PHE) suggested people may need to get supplies for loved ones in future if social-distancing measures are brought in and more people are told to stay at home.

The posts urged people to "plan ahead".

The government body added: "Everyone has a part to play, and we're asking people to think about what they do in a typical week, how they could limit contact with others if asked to.

"This might include helping older relatives and neighbours to get some food in, so that they would have supplies for a week or so if required, ensuring someone would be available to go shopping for them, or arranging for online delivery if they needed it."

Today, the Department for Health confirmed as of 7am Saturday, 206 have tested positive for Covid-19.

There have been 21,460 people tested altogether in the UK.

Two elderly people who tested positive for Covid-19, both with underlying health problems, have died, the UK's Chief Medical Officer has confirmed.

There were five confirmed cases of Covid-19 in Hertfordshire, as of 9am on Thursday.

Watford General Hospital confirmed a patient has tested positive for Covid-19, with a ward being evacuated on Thursday evening.