Although there are no current medicine shortages in the UK linked to the coronavirus outbreak in China, the government is taking “precautionary measures” to continue the supply of medicines to patients, it said in a statement on Tuesday (February 11).
It comes in light of the potential impact of restrictions on movement imposed by the Chinese government, which include flight and travel, and the potential knock-on effect this could have on global supply chains.
Suppliers have been instructed to carry out risk assessments to determine the impact coronavirus may have on their business and also maintain stockpiles of medicines, already compiled as a “contingency measure” ahead of Britain’s exit from the EU.
However, patients and the NHS have been told not to stockpile medicines as this risks aggravating supply chain problems.
The DH will “monitor the impact of coronavirus on the UK supply chain”, and is “putting in place common-sense measures” to prevent shortages as a result of coronavirus, health minister Nicola Blackwood said.
Coronavirus impact so far
On Monday (February 11), a Brighton branch of Lloydspharmacy was closed for cleaning as a precautionary measure due to a case of coronavirus and has since reopened. The BBC reported that the case was a GP working at County Oak Medical Centre, where the Lloydspharmacy branch is also located. However, Public Health England (PHE) could only confirm to C+D that the person in question is a “healthcare worker”.
In January, wholesalers told C+D they had sold out of face masks following news of the outbreak.
The government has issued guidance for healthcare professionals on the assessment and management of suspected UK cases.