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‘Bring back ration books’-Vulnerable family’s plea in face of stockpiling

PUBLISHED: 14:32 19 March 2020 | UPDATED: 14:32 19 March 2020

Lesley Thorburn has been frustrated that she and other vulnerable people cannot get the supplies they need because of people panic buying and stockpiling. Picutre: Courtesy Lesley Thorburn/Charlotte Smith-Jarvis

Lesley Thorburn has been frustrated that she and other vulnerable people cannot get the supplies they need because of people panic buying and stockpiling. Picutre: Courtesy Lesley Thorburn/Charlotte Smith-Jarvis

Archant

A woman who lives with her husband and elderly mum, all of whom could be vulnerable to the coronavirus, has called for ration books to be introduced.

Early-morning queues outside the Harford Tesco in Norwich. Picture: ArchantEarly-morning queues outside the Harford Tesco in Norwich. Picture: Archant

Lesley Thorburn, from Gressenhall, said she was frustrated and fed up that panic buying and stockpiling could leave them without the essentials they need to survive their self-isolation.

Mrs Thorburn, 62, said: “Maybe the government need to start introducing ration books again to stop this bulk buying and leaving the elderly and vulnerable with nothing.

“Shame on all these people bulk-buying and leaving the elderly and sick and disabled with nothing.

“We didn’t win the last war with this sort of selfish attitude. We won it by everyone helping one another and thinking of others.

Lesley Thorburn has been frustrated that she and other vulnerable people cannot get the supplies they need because of people panic buying and stockpiling. Picutre: Courtesy Lesley ThorburnLesley Thorburn has been frustrated that she and other vulnerable people cannot get the supplies they need because of people panic buying and stockpiling. Picutre: Courtesy Lesley Thorburn

“This isn’t a concern just for us, there are thousands of people in our situation.”

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Mrs Thorburn has stage three emphysema, is on steroids and has difficulty walking after three hip replacements.

Her husband Andy, 55, has emphysema as well as a lung reduction and heart condition called supraventricular tachycardia.

They live with Mr Thorburn’s 90-year-old mum Margaret, who has asthma and hypertension.

They are planning on self-isolating for at least three months because they are worried their lives would be at risk if they got the virus.

Although they usually order online from Sainsbury’s anyway, Mrs Thorburn said this was now nigh-on impossible.

She said: “When I tried to book a delivery this week I couldn’t book anything for weeks - it was all full. I kept refreshing the page and I managed to get one for Friday, but who knows what I’m going to get?

“My daughter-in-law drove around for two hours yesterday but wherever she went, the shelves were bare.

“No tissues, long-life milk, bread, soap, cleaning agents, tinned meats and even some fresh meat. Frozen vegetables are also in short supply.”

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Mrs Thorburn said the government needed to act quickly to ensure people who needed to be in long-term isolation could stay fed.

She said: “Most of the population will only need supplies for 14 days - they do not need supplies to last months.

“We need to get our supplies ensured for at least three months or the vulnerable are going to starve.

“We can’t even risk our lives by going out to get supplies because there are no supplies.

“The country will not run out food, but the shops are daily. We cannot have this ridiculous and selfish attitude of ‘I’m alright Jack’.”

Health secretary Matt Hancock has already suggested food rationing may be introduced, and has implored shoppers to “consider the impact that their stocking up might have on others”.

Mr Hancock said: “We of course stand ready to take further measures if that’s necessary.”

Supermarkets have taken matters into their own hands to try to limit panic buying, with some setting aside specific hours for the elderly and vulnerable to shop in peace, and putting limits on the number of items of any one line shoppers can take.

Mrs Thorburn suggested they should go even further. She said: “Can’t GPs give their database of flu jab patients to the supermarkets, so we can be checked on this to prove we are the vulnerable in isolation for a long time and need priority?”

“The supermarkets would then need to keep stocks of essentials in their stores for us and not keep selling it every day to the same people who keep going in day after day.”

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