The government is working with supermarkets to ensure that people self-isolating because of coronavirus will receive food, the health secretary told BBC One’s Question Time.
Matt Hancock said he was confident food supplies would not run down.
His comments came as health officials said some patients who tested positive were being treated in their homes.
The total number of confirmed cases in the UK has risen to 116, and one person has died.
Responding to a question about panic-buying from a Question Time audience member, Mr Hancock said there was “absolutely no need” for people to buy in excess.
“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,” he said.
“Crucially, we are working with the supermarkets to make sure that, if people are self-isolating, then we will be able to get the food and supplies that they need.”
On Thursday, a woman in Reading, who was understood to be in her 70s, became first person in the UK to die after testing positive for coronavirus. She had underlying health conditions.
Prof Chris Whitty, the UK’s chief medical officer, said that of the confirmed cases in the UK, 18 have recovered and around 45 have been self-isolating at home.
“[If] people have very minimal symptoms and we think they are clinically safe and they are able to self-isolate, we think it is actually safer for them as well as more pleasant if they can self-isolate in their own homes,” he said, adding that those who need to go to hospital would be treated there.
The number of people self-isolating is likely to rise further after the government said people who develop symptoms after returning from anywhere in Italy – not just the north of the country – should stay at home.
For those returning from the quarantined towns in Italy, people should self-isolate even if they do not show symptoms.
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A cruise ship carrying 142 UK nationals – including 21 crew members – has been prevented from docking in San Francisco, California, as tests are carried out for suspected cases of coronavirus.
More than 3,500 people are on board the Grand Princess liner, which cut short a trip from Hawaii after a man in his 70s died from the disease.
It is the second time that Britons have been stranded on a Princess Cruises vessel because of the outbreak. Japanese authorities said last week that a British tourist who had been on board the Diamond Princess – which was quarantined in Japan – had died after contracting the virus.
Globally, authorities have confirmed more than 92,000 cases of the virus and more than 3,000 people have died.
The vast majority of cases – more than 80,000 – are in China, where the virus originated in December.
As passengers cancel holiday plans, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps criticised rules that lead to airlines flying empty planes in order to avoid losing take-off and landing-slots at airports.
The Airport Coordination Limited (ACL), which coordinates the slots, stipulates that airlines must use 80% of their slots or risk them being taken away in the following year.
In a letter to the ACL, Mr Shapps called for the rule to be relaxed in order to avoid “ghost flights”, which he said are “not in the industry’s, the passengers’ or the environment’s interest”.
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