Hospital visitors stealing hand sanitiser amid coronavirus fears

Hand sanitising gel is being stolen by visitors to a hospital on a daily basis as demand for the product grows amid the spread of coronavirus.

Bosses at Northampton General Hospital said sanitising gel had been disappearing from the ends of ward beds "every single day" this week.

Three wall-mounted dispensers have been ripped off, while visitors have used the hospital's supply of sanitiser to "top up" their own bottles.

A Northampton General Hospital spokeswoman told the BBC: "Nothing like this has ever happened in all the years we've had the gel."

It comes as retailers reported a surge in demand for hand sanitiser, which has has left some shelves empty of the product.

In total, 163 people had tested positive for Covid-19 as of 9am on Friday, up from 115 cases reported at the same time on Thursday.

Sally-Anne Watts, the hospital's associate communications director, told the BBC: "Over the past week we've seen stocks on wards disappear from the end of beds every single day.

Hand sanitiser faucets
Hand sanitiser faucets

"Three wall-mounted dispensers have been ripped off and we've even seen people coming in and topping up their own dispensers with our product."

Public Health England said people should wash their hands with soap and water, or hand sanitiser, for 20 seconds to help slow the spread of coronavirus.

Meanwhile, Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the British Retail Consortium (BRC) on behalf of supermarkets, said it was working "constructively" with the Government to ensure supermarkets remain stocked of in-demand products.

She said: "While coronavirus has increased the demand of certain products in the short-term, we are confident that any disruption will remain limited and consumers will continue to be able to choose from a wide selection of foods and other products in stores across the country."