A hospital in England has asked visitors to refrain from stealing hand sanitiser dispensers as fear grows over the coronavirus outbreak in the UK.
The outbreak of COVID-19 has sparked a surge in demand for hand gel as shop and pharmacy stocks begin to sell out.
Northampton General Hospital, which itself is facing a shortage of the product, said on Friday that gel dispensers are being taken from patients' beds and “ripped” from walls.
It comes after 163 people tested positive for Covid-19 as of 9am on Friday, up from 115 cases reported at the same time on Thursday.
The NHS Trust in charge of hospital claims the gel is "disappearing every day" and as such have been forced to limit the supply on wards.
Posting to its Facebook page, the hospital wrote: “We're seeing a lot of hand sanitiser dispensers disappearing from the end of our patients' beds and from our welcome desks.
Read more: Where are the coronavirus cases in the UK?
“Please help us to keep our patients safe by not removing the dispensers or using them to top up your own dispensers.”
Now the hospital is asking visitors to “respect” the short supply of sanitising gel - and reminded the public that “hand washing remains the most effective way to minimise infection.”
A spokeswoman for the hospital said: “Over the past few days, we’ve seen a marked increase in the number of hand gel dispensers being taken from our ward areas, including those at the end of our patients’ beds.
"Three dispensers have been ripped from walls around the site, and we’ve seen people coming to the site to fill up their dispensers from our supplies.
"We don’t have an unlimited supply and would ask that visitors to the site respect the fact that we are doing all we can to keep our patients, visitors and staff safe, and we need their support. Hand washing is the most effective way to minimise the risk of infection."
Two UK deaths have been feared, with an elderly woman in Berkshire confirmed to have died from coronavirus.
On Friday, it emerged a patient in Buckinghamshire, in Milton Keynes, had died amid fears they've contracted the deadly virus.