Pharmacists in Brighton, which has been at the centre of the outbreak in the UK, said people were initially “a bit worried” at the news that County Oak Medical Centre had closed after a GP was diagnosed with the virus last week.
However, “as soon as the pharmacy and surgery reopened, people had some peace of mind,” a Brighton-based pharmacist, who asked to remain anonymous, told C+D. “They felt that if there was anything serious, it wouldn't have reopened.”
“We've been advising them to make sure they wash their hands regularly with hand gel and to call NHS 111 if they have any symptoms.”
Abs Samaan, pharmacy manager at Kamsons Pharmacy on the city's Preston Drove, said that “the general reaction has been a bit tense, a bit anxious, due to the lack of supply of sanitisers and face masks… [but] it's been quite tame overall.”
“Some customers did get “a bit panicked when the surgeries [in County Oak Medical Centre] closed down... But for the most part they've been quite understanding and aware of what's going on”, he said.
"People seem reassured”
Another local pharmacist, who asked not to be named, said: “We've put up the warning posters issued by the government and have been giving advice and people are taking it on board better than might have been expected. The message has [been] passed on, it's got through and people seem reassured.”
Business in Islington, London continued as usual last week, despite the temporary closure of the area's Ritchie Street Health Centre. Shahid Sheikh, a pharmacist at the Chana Chemist, said:“One of our customers was in the surgery when they announced it and said everyone was shocked." However, Mr Sheikh said the customer had also told him that "they took down everyone's names and numbers, then called them back to say it was all clear”.
Meanwhile, a pharmacy staff member in Farnham, where Ferns Medical Practice closed its doors temporarily on February 13 after it transpired that one of its patients had been in a region impacted by the virus, said business was unaffected.
Speaking anonymously, he told C+D: “A lot of people haven't even heard about it. We're getting a few people coming in with face masks and a lot of people wanting to buy them, but I gather that's happening everywhere.
“There's no sense of impending doom in the area. I don't get any sense of a massive hysteria,” he added.