Britain’s Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng has warned that the government is “very concerned” about potential food shortages, as supermarkets and hauliers are impacted by record numbers forced to self-isolate as Covid cases rise.
Reporting on the situation on Thursday, UK newspapers showed empty shelves in supermarkets throughout the country, as the number of individuals forced to self-isolate due to the spread of Covid begins to impact the supply chain and the ability of shops to operate.
While the business secretary urged people to avoid “panicking” about the prospect of empty shelves in shops, he admitted that the government is “very concerned about the situation” and is monitoring it closely.
England reopened on Monday, July 19, known as ‘Freedom Day,’ as Covid restrictions were lifted, with the UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson citing the successful vaccination programme as proof that the nation is ready to begin returning to normal.
However, despite 87% of UK adults having received one dose of a Covid jab and more than 68% having been fully vaccinated, the country is reporting record numbers of new daily infections, forcing an increasing number of people to self-isolate.
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The concerns come after the British Meat Processors’ Association warned on Wednesday that the country’s food supply chains are “right on the edge of failing” due to a shortage of labor and a rising number of people in the workforce being ‘pinged’ (notified of a possible infection). Separately, supermarket chain Iceland’s managing director, Richard Walker, declared that a number of stores will be closed due to a shortage of staff and HGV drivers.
The latest figures from the UK government show that a record 618,903 in England and Wales were ordered to self-isolate by the NHS Track and Trace app in the week to July 14, in what’s been called a ‘pingdemic’. The increase of 16.8% on the previous week came after 259,265 people had tested positive for the virus in the past week.
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