Coronavirus panic: near empty shelf for fresh food at Sainsbury in East Dulwich London

Coronavirus epidemic has triggered unprecedented panic buying in the UK, a day after Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced his government battle plan.

Britons have begun stockpiling essentials with supermarkets up and down the country left with empty shelves.

According to metro.co.uk, rice, pasta, couscous, Pot Noodles, tins of beans, bottled water and pet food – as well as chilled items including milk, butter and yoghurt – are all selling out fast.

“Pharmacy shelves are also emptying of paracetamol, ibuprofen and immune-system boosting tablets such as Berocca as people prepare to fight off the flu-like illness that has claimed hundreds of lives worldwide”, the newspaper reported.

“Facebook and Twitter are packed with photographs of empty shelves from major supermarkets across the UK where shoppers appear to have thrown empty boxes into the aisles in a mad scramble for items.

So far in Britain, 51 people have tested positive for the disease, with hand sanitisers, tissues and face masks flying off the shelves as people attempt to protect themselves.

One Boots store was even forced to impose a two-bottle limit on customers.