MailOnline readers have revealed their essential stockpiling items and survival shopping lists as those worried about the shortage of anti-bacterial hand gel began sharing homemade sanitiser recipes to fight coronavirus.
Britons have already started panic buying water and canned food, with some even setting up ‘isolation’ rooms at home in case a pandemic shuts down their communities.
A shortage of germ-killing antibacterial gel has seen the prices skyrocket online with one racketeer trying to sell them for a 49p bottle for £1,000 on eBay – while Boots has said it is limiting sales of two bottles per customer.
But many health experts have said many pharmacy sanitisers don’t kill coronavirus because they contain less than 60 per cent alcohol – and washing hands for 20 seconds is far better.
MailOnline readers have sent in their stockpiled provisions, which includes staples such as bottled water, bin liners, Calpol and pet food – or more eclectic essentials such as Pot Noodles, exfoliating face wash and litres of beer and wine.
David Wharton filled his boot with 15kg of penne, 48 bags of crisps, 16 tins of beans and litres of Dettol said: ‘Better to be safe than sorry, if it all blows over won’t need to go shopping for weeks’.
Mel Cross wrote: ‘I’ve been stockpiling for weeks now. Had a feeling the situation would really get bad. Loads of toilet rolls, hand sanitiser, soaps, disinfectant, paracetamol. Been filling my cellar’.
MailOnline reader David Wharton filled his boot with enough staples like pasta and loo roll to last him for weels
Calpol, tinned ham, porridge oats, Pot Noodles and Calpol have been bought should a pandemic take hold in the UK
Mary Donovan shared this photo with MailOnline saying she was stockpiling beauty products
Beegee stands next to stockpiled stores including cat food with its owner Melanie saying: ‘ Don’t forget the animals!’
Prices of antibacterial hand sanitisers have skyrocketed because of shortages – this seller is trying to get £1,000 for a litre
Three steps to making your own hand gel at home – and how to use it properly
Surgical spirit online can be used to make an alternative to antibacterial hand gel
By a bottle of surgical spirit from a pharmacy or hardware store – which can be labelled ‘rubbing alcohol’. It must have a isopropyl alcohol level of at least 91%. These are around £5.
For a pleasant scent buy a 200ml bottle of pure aloe vera gel, which is widely available on the high street for around £3.
Take a pint (568ml) of isopropyl and combine with the entire bottle of aloe vera gel (200ml) and mix in a clean bowl with a plastic spatula. You can use an electric whisk or food processor.
Use a funnel to decant your gel into bottles. Recycled hand soap bottles with pumps would be best.
The bottles have a shelf life of six months if kept in a cool, dark place.
How to use:
Fill your palm with gel and rub for 20 to 30 seconds ensuring it covers your fingers and goes under nails.
Tiny 50ml bottles of the gel, which are usually available for just 49p in Lidl, are now being advertised for the astronomical prices on eBay and other auction websites – 2,041 times the usual price.
Tesco today declined to comment on the unusually high prices and the reports of low stock, while Asda, Sainsbury’s and Lidl have all been contacted but have yet to respond.
A spokesman for Boots, who have also seen stores sell out of hand sanitisers in recent weeks, said today: ‘We have seen an increase in sales of hand sanitisers but we still have stock available in our warehouses for stores and online.
The shortage led to Mumsnet users sharing recipes on a thread on whether to be stressed about lack of antibacterial hand gel in the shops.
One wrote: ‘Found this easy diy version but looking through it seems that any solution needs to be at least 60% alcohol. Perhaps decant into small containers for people to use when they are out’.
But a critic said people worried about a lack of hand gel are ‘deranged’ – and said they should just wash their hands thoroughly.
Families have been building up reserves to ensure their homes are ‘fit for a pandemic’ with some purchasing new chest freezers to fill with food and portable camp toilets to avoid sharing a loo if a relative tests positive for the killer virus.
On social media one panicked Briton revealed that they have turned one small room in their house into an ‘isolation zone’ equipped with cooking equipment, bedding and food if they have to be in quarantine for a fortnight.
Another Mumsnet user said: ‘I’ve cleaned and prepped the farm caravan so if needed it could be an isolation suite. Useful place to store surplus supplies, tinned food etc as well’.
Others are drawing up spreadsheets of the items they need to buy to last them weeks or months in self-isolation.
Professor Ratula Chakraborty, professor of business management at the University of East Anglia (UEA), said: ‘The prospect of whole towns being in lockdown and shops closed is heightening the fear and stockpiling may become rife’.
Experts believe the stockpiling of medicine and food in family homes ‘may become rife’ as people grow increasingly concerned about coronavirus disrupting British life.
Professor Chakraborty, said: ‘One big opportunity for the supermarkets may be home delivery, where online grocery retailers could see a bonanza as consumers shy away from visiting stores and instead prefer to shop from the safety of their own homes.
‘There is no immediate need to stockpile or panic buy any goods, but people should be prepared to help out and shop for vulnerable relatives and friends who are elderly or have underlying conditions which places them at a greater risk of developing severe symptoms if the coronavirus spreads.
This Tesco shopper picked up packets of microwavable rice, Dettol wipes and cold and flu tablets as people start stockpiling because of the coronavirus crisis
Superdrug and Boots has sold out of hand gel and face masks at their stores with emergency orders on their way
These bare shelves in a Boots pharmacy as panic buying over the UK took hold
Britons have admitted stockpiling items ranging from loo roll and tinned food to new freezers and toilets because of coronavirus
This Mumsnet user revealed her stockpiling shopping list on a thread called: ‘Prepping for a pandemic’, which included olive oil, dips, crackers, chocolate and printer paper
In a thread on coronavirus this user sent out her ‘dear husband’ to pick a large chest freezer to store more food
This user set out a plan for ‘a house fit for a pandemic’ once all the stockpiling is up to date
This user has confirmed she is buying powdered egg for baking in case fresh ones become hard to come by
‘Julie’ was looking to order a camp toilet for at home. Some are concerned about sharing toilets at home if someone falls ill
Some have revealed they are building spreadsheets with lists of items they have bought, use by dates and meal plans
British maker of £2,000 isolation pods ‘rushed of its feet’ with orders
One of the world’s leading manufacturers of medical isolation ‘pods’ today said it was ‘rushed off its feet’ with orders from around the world amid the coronavirus outbreak.
British company PPS (pictured) said it has had a ‘manic’ few weeks distributing the pods to hospitals, armed forces, and ambulance services worldwide.
The pods, which measure 200cm x 80cm x 50cm, are designed for the temporary isolation of a single person feared contaminated by an infectious disease. They cost £2,000.
In one discussion on Mumsnet, a poster asked if they were being unreasonable ‘to be considering a small stockpile or supplies because of corona?’
They added: ‘Reading about the Italian villages that have been put on lockdown and families can’t leave their homes has got me thinking…Italy isn’t a million miles away. It’s not a third world country. If it’s happened there…’
Almost 200 people responded to the message, with most saying they are also stockpiling tinned goods, toilet rolls and other supplies.
One said they were ‘filling the cupboard with soup, tomatoes, tinned fruit, flour, crackers etc in advance.
‘I’ll still eat them all, but they last for months anyway, and when people are surging into supermarkets stripping the shelves I won’t be adding to the masses worried they won’t have enough. I’ll be out of the way and not contributing to shortages
On Tuesday, an official at the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention warned of the potential for ‘severe’ disruption to daily life in the event of coronavirus becoming a pandemic.
Anne Schuchat, principal deputy director of the CDC, said there was a need for ‘new strategies’.
The CDC has been urging businesses, schools and families to prepare for a possible outbreak of Covid-19 in the US, including potentially allowing employees to work from home and internet-based lessons.
In the UK, England’s Chief Medical Officer, Professor Chris Whitty, has said school closures could occur if the virus spreads, while people could be asked to stay at home with their families.
So which face mask should you buy to protect against coronavirus?
Experts have lab tested face masks used by NHS medics to try to stop patients giving them illnesses spread through the air like flu, ebola and other illnesses similar to coronavirus such as SARs.
The Health and Safety Executive uses a specialist machine that sprays water droplets at a person wearing a mask to accurately replicate being hit with a cough or a sneeze.
People wearing different types of mask were also sprayed five times from a metre away while breathing in. The same test was also done while standing still, walking towards someone and walking away to see how much, if any, of the spray got through.
Here are the best and worst performers:
Best – Mask respirator with filters – £22.99 from Screwfix
Chances of getting coronavirus: 100 times less likely than wearing no mask
Description: The NHS uses this kind of face mask to treat patients with the most dangerous airborne illnesses such as coronavirus, swine flu or ebola.
It has the highest level of protection because it filters the air and has a rubber mouthpiece meaning that no droplets from a cough or sneeze could get into the mouth or nose.
It also has multiple straps that ensure it is fitted tightly to a person’s head and face.
Safe bet – Mask respirator with no filter – £2.76 online
Chances of getting coronavirus: 78 times less likely than wearing no mask
Description: This cheaper face mask is designed to offer protection from gases, hazardous materials and a small amount of liquid.
If a coronavirus sufferer sneezed or coughed in your face while wearing it it would still offer good protection. But because the mask is smaller, particles from the virus could linger on the face. It would have to be disposed of after one use. It should not get wet.
Basic protection – standard surgical mask – 80p each online
Chances of getting coronavirus: Six times less likely than wearing no mask
Description: Surgical masks protect against large droplets, splashes and contact transmission with illnesses such as coronavirus.
But testing by the Health and Safety Executive found that when a sneeze landed on them traces were found inside.
The report on preventing the spread of swine flu says: ‘They should not be used in situations where close exposure to infectious aerosols [sneezes and coughs] is likely. This level of protection might not sufficiently reduce the likelihood of transmission via this route’.
Last resort – DIY mask using bra or a sanitary towel – cost FREE
Chances of getting coronavirus: Two times less likely than wearing no mask
In China people have used a female sanitary towel (left) or a bra – experts say a DIY mask is still better than nothing
Description: The coronavirus pandemic in China has led to masks being unavailable in many of the hotspot regions.
Desperate unable to buy face masks have deployed carved out melons, plastic bottles, even bras, sanitary towels and lettuce leaves
There was an increase in DIY masks Chinese health officials warned people not to re-use their protective masks after videos emerged of people boiling their surgical masks and hanging them up to dry.
A safety report by Cambridge University from 2013 said: ‘Our findings suggest that a homemade mask should only be considered as a last resort to prevent droplet transmission from infected individuals, but it would be better than no protection’.
Coronavirus face masks sell out as prices soar 800%: But do they really work and which one should you buy?
Coronavirus panic in Britain means face masks are selling out and online profiteers are ramping up the cost by up to £120 per pack – but experts are still split over whether they work at all.
More than 81,000 cases of coronavirus have been recorded across the world – and with the global death toll topping 2,800 and increasing every day in Europe more people in the UK are now choosing to cover their mouth and nose in public.
In Britain, there have been 19 confirmed coronavirus cases and the prices of masks are now rocketing as shops sell out. One pack of five ‘anti-coronavirus’ masks is on sale online for £150 today – when the cost of the same pack was less than £30 just five days ago.
However, one medical expert told MailOnline that masks ‘cannot’ protect against the virus and that wearing them may even make it worse. Meanwhile Public Health England has warned that there is ‘very little evidence’ that masks are effective ‘outside of clinical settings’ such as hospitals.
Yet recent testing by the Health and Safety Executive has found that any kind of protection is better than nothing.
The way you wear a mask is crucially importantly, academics say, because unless it is tight to the nose and mouth contaminated sneezes and coughs will get through – or linger on the surface.
Commuters wear protective masks travels on the Jubilee Line and the Central Line (left and right) in London as face masks sell out
People in masks at Holborn Underground Station today but experts are split over whether they work
Face masks are running out and increasing in price online as panic over the coronavirus outbreak ramps up but are a more common sight in London
What is Public Health England’s advice on wearing face masks?
‘Face masks play a very important role in clinical settings, such as hospitals.
‘However, there is very little evidence of widespread benefit from their use outside of these clinical settings.
‘Facemasks must be worn correctly, changed frequently, removed properly, disposed of safely and used in combination with good universal hygiene behaviour in order for them to be effective.
‘Research also shows that compliance with these recommended behaviours reduces over time when wearing facemasks for prolonged periods.
‘People concerned about the transmission of infectious diseases would do better to prioritise good personal, respiratory and hand hygiene.’
Dr Jake Dunning, head of emerging infections and zoonoses at Public Health England
Professor Brendan Wren from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said that masks will not stop people from becoming infected and may even worsen its spread.
He said: ‘The masks won’t protect against the virus because it’s so tiny. It is thousands of times smaller than bacteria.
‘I don’t think they do any good. They are smaller than air particles for pollution that we worry about. It will simply be breathed in.’
He added that masks may make the spread of the virus more likely if they become damp.
‘They may make matters worse, [such as] if they become damp. If you have a cold or sneezing, sneezing into a mask can make matters worse.’
He added: ‘The main purpose is a psychological thing they make people more aware but physically they are not a prevention’.
Dr Stephen Griffin, Associate Professor Section of Infection & Immunity, University of Leeds, said: ‘Standard facemasks provide relatively little protection from respiratory aerosols – they can stop larger droplets and some studies have estimated an approx. 5-fold protection versus no barrier alone. Also, once they are worn for a time, they become moistened and protection diminishes further. Exhaled droplets also reduce in size quickly by evaporation, and of course virus particles are far smaller than the fibre mesh in these sorts of masks.
‘However, wearing a mask can reduce the propensity for people to touch their faces, which happens many more times a day than we all realise and is a major source of infection without proper hand hygiene. They are also useful for people that are themselves symptomatic in stopping coughs and sneezes, primarily by encouraging good ‘etiquette’, i.e. catch it, bin it, kill it…
‘There are higher specification masks that contain filters and, when properly fitted and sealed, provide significantly better protection. However, these aren’t as easy to come by and are obviously more expensive.’
The World Health Organisation said masks had to be combined with good hand hygiene and other measures for them to have any positive effect.
One brand, marketed as an ‘anti Coronavirus vented mask’ on Amazon is being sold for £150, up from less than £30 just five days ago
On the website of pharmacist Boot’s , ‘Safe & Sound’ surgical masks which were sold out last month continue to be unavailable
All masks being sold by Medisave, which sells medical supplies in the UK, are out of stock
At Screwfix, dust masks are still being sold but a message warns customers that there is a limit on the numbers they can purchase
They recommended that masks should only be worn by those with a cough, fever, or who people who have difficulty breathing.
They added: ‘The main purpose is a psychological thing they make people more aware but physically they are not a prevention.’
The spike in demand has meant that pharmacies including Boots are no longer selling masks online and stores are sold out.
Others listed at retailers including Amazon, Screwfix and Medisave are either sold out or have dramatically increased in price from £10 in December to nearly £80.
As of Thursday morning, ordinary surgical masks being sold on Amazon were far more expensive than last December, or even just a few days ago.
One listing for a pack of 50 surgical masks had jumped eight times in price, from £4.99 on December 1 to £39.20 on Thursday.
Another, for five masks with ear loops, sold by Cosy Cloud, has jumped from £6.99 just three days ago to £13.99 on Thursday.
A further listing for 10 masks, which was £10.99 on February 22 was being sold for £19.99 on Thursday.
Of more expensive masks, some of which are being marketed as protectors against Coronavirus – many have hiked dramatically in price.
One, a 3M Disposal Respirator, has jumped from just £20 on December 1 to £52 on Thursday.
Another similar product has gone from £10 at the beginning of December last year to £79.99 today.
Another listing for a respirator is now priced at £200, whereas it was just £24 in November last year.
Elsewhere, the masks are out of stock entirely. On the website of Medisave – which sells medical supplies in the UK – all masks are out of stock.
At Boot’s pharmacist, ‘Safe & Sound’ surgical masks which were sold out last month continue to be unavailable.
The listing simply says ‘stock coming soon’ and there are no available alternatives.
At Screwfix, dust masks are still being sold but a message warns customers that there is a limit on the numbers they can purchase.
It reads: ‘Due to unprecedented global demand, orders containing more than 5 units of any mask will be reduced to 5 at the point of collection.’