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‘Pingdemic’ grips Britain as fears of food shortages grow

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British Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said he was concerned by a so-called ‘pingdemic’ in which hundreds of thousands of workers have been told to isolate by an official app as fears grew of food and fuel shortages.

“We’re very concerned about the situation,” Kwarteng said when asked about reports of empty supermarket shelves in some areas. “We’re monitoring the situation.”

Pictures on social media showed large gaps on supermarket shelves as the “pingdemic” put pressure on retailers’ ability to maintain opening hours and stock shelves.

Britain’s food supply chains are “right on the edge of failing” as absence related to COVID-19 has aggravated a critical shortage of labour, a meat industry body said on Wednesday.

Andrew Opie, director of food & sustainability at industry lobby group, the British Retail Consortium, said the government needed to act swiftly.

“Retail workers and suppliers, who have played a vital role throughout this pandemic, should be allowed to work provided they are double vaccinated or can show a negative COVID test, to ensure there is no disruption to the public’s ability to get food and other goods,” he said.

Alerts, or “pings”, from the official app telling anyone identified as a contact of someone with the disease to self-isolate for 10 days have also disrupted schools and the healthcare system.

(Reporting by Guy Faulconbridge and James Davey; Editing by Kate Holton)

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SourceReuters

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