PHARMACIES and Hardware stores have faced a shortage of face masks as the coronavirus panic hits UK.
As cases of the coronavirus are currently doubling in China, sales of protective masks have risen by 846 per cent.
Hand sanitiser sales have also seen a sharp rise in sales.
A pharmacy in Edinbrugh sold up to 12,000 surgical face masks since the outbreak in Wuhan emerged.
One supermarket pharmacy reported that they were getting phone calls asking if they had 500 available to be destined for China.
She said: “All our suppliers are out of stock. One yesterday said they had a years worth of supply now they had none.
“They are shipping face masks from Ireland for us. Yesterday we sold well over 1,000. They bought them in boxes.
We spoke to some Hardware retailers who sell various ranges of disposable masks to the building trade, but are out of stock for at least 14 days before any sign of new deliveries.
Jonathan Ball, professor of molecular virology at the University of Nottingham, said: “In one well-controlled study in a hospital setting, the face mask was as good at preventing influenza infection as a purpose-made respirator.
Dr Jake Dunning, of Public Health England, said: “Face masks play a very important role in clinical settings, such as hospital.
“However, there is very little evidence of widespread benefit from their use outside of these clinical settings.”
Surgical masks can, however, stop someone from infecting other sick people, experts suggest.
Washing your hands is much better than using a face mask to protect against coronavirus, the Health Secretary has said, as official advice warns Britons not to touch the tap afterwards.
Matt Hancock said every member of the public could take “simple steps” to cut the risk to themselves and their families.
At least 427 people have died with more than 20,000 confirmed cases worldwide.
Two Chinese nationals who were guests at the Staycity apartment-hotel in York, before being taken to the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle.
Meanwhile 83 Britons evacuated from Wuhan in China have been placed in quarantine at Arrow Hospital in Wirral.
Public Health England (PHE) said it was making “good progress” in tracing people who have come into close contact with the two Chinese nationals.