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Coronavirus: Panic-buying sees Northern Ireland shops running out of baby essentials

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Empty shelves at a supermarket in west Belfast

Empty shelves at a supermarket in west Belfast

PA

Empty shelves at a supermarket in west Belfast

Panic-buying linked to the coronavirus pandemic is making it increasingly difficult for parents to find baby food here, it has emerged.

Supermarket shelves across Northern Ireland have been virtually stripped of the likes of powdered baby milk and nappies.

Meanwhile, pre-made baby meals are also running low in supermarkets.

In recent days parents have reported that they have been forced to drive long distances to find the basic essentials to care for their babies.

Stock levels in shops deteriorated further on Thursday as rumours circulated that Prime Minister Boris Johnson was preparing to announce school closures.

A range of non-vital supplies, including mayonnaise, tomato ketchup, HP sauce, gravy granules, powdered potatoes and tinned ham were sold out in some shops on Thursday night.

Toilet rolls, paracetamol and bread had also sold out, as had most fresh fruits and vegetables and many frozen food lines.

Staff in a number of shops yesterday reported that items were selling out as soon as they restocked shelves.

One store manager said: "We aren't even taking the toilet rolls out of the pallets because customers are buying them as soon as they're on the shop floor."

However, one of the biggest causes for the concern is the apparent stockpiling of crucial baby products.

Jess Higgins, who runs the Daisy Foundation antenatal and baby classes in Ballymena and Ballymoney, said: "There are a lot of mums who are reporting problems finding nappies and baby milk, so obviously that is worrying.

"At the same time, I have seen a lot of women offering to help one another out by offering nappies and milk they no longer need, which is really good to see mums supporting one another at this time."

Jess explained that pregnant women are also voicing concerns at missing antenatal appointments if they display symptoms.

She stressed that any woman who is concerned about her pregnancy at any stage should contact their healthcare provider immediately. Expectant mums have also raised concerns that they may not be allowed visitors following labour.

"We all have to do our bit and it might seem like a small issue in a very serious situation, but they are all things that our mummies are telling us," she said.

As a result of the concerns being raised by Daisy Foundation members, the organisation is also offering support to mums across Northern Ireland as the response to the spread of coronavirus moves into delay phase.

"New mums, babies and children are physically in a low risk category but that isn't necessarily the case with their mental health," continued Jess.

"When you have a brand new baby for the first time, that can be a very difficult and anxious time and we are hearing that NHS classes are being cancelled.

"It's not okay if you are pregnant and you can't access your planned antenatal education or you can't access the support that you need as a new mum.

"As a short-term emergency provision, we're offering antenatal classes and our other usual Daisy classes in a live, interactive online forum.

"This means that no mummies have to miss out on that vital support at a time when they are extremely vulnerable, even if they can't get out of the house."

Belfast Telegraph