Vulnerable people are at threat of being left without vital items due to panic buying.

Supermarket shelves in Dorset have been left empty in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak.

Pictures posted by residents on social media show empty toilet paper and handwash shelves in supermarkets in Weymouth and Dorchester.

Some supermarkets have started 'rationing' supplies in a bid to combat this panic buying.

Ruth Wild, aged 52 from Weymouth, said she was unable to complete her elderly mum’s shopping at Tesco’s Dorchester due to panic buying.

She said: “I was doing my mum’s shopping for her, she can’t get out of the house – she’s 85-year-olds.

“But because people are stockpiling products it’s leaving vulnerable people without vital products.

“Friends of mine have been unable to buy things like soap, handwash and hand sanitiser or toilet roll, kitchen roll and even rice and pasta.

“I had to go to Home Bargains in Littlemoor for toilet roll. There seems to be plenty again now, so I think people are starting to get the message that there’s no need to stockpile.

“I don’t blame the supermarkets, just the people going mad stockpiling. It does make you question whether these people wash their hands during the rest of the year.”

Roger MacPherson, aged 72 from Weymouth, said he was unable to buy products from Sainsbury’s in Weymouth due to panic buying.

He said he went to the supermarket to replace some items, but had to visit Home Bargains in Littlemoor due to low stock.

He explained: “Personally I hadn’t stockpiled products and thought that the rush had been a joke.

“However, I went on to Home Bargains and discovered that they too had empty shelves, where the bathroom tissues are normally kept.

“I didn’t have time to go anywhere else, so I have left it until today (Sunday, March 8) to have another hunt around.

“I was shocked and couldn’t believe that so many people thought they should stockpile.

“The trouble is when you realise everyone is doing it, you naturally want to make sure you have enough supplies. When I do find a shop with stock I will probably have to double up on my next purchase.

“I don’t intent to fill a trolley full of supplies, however, I will double my stocks of bathroom tissues, just so we don’t run out.”

He added: “I am old enough to remember rationing and my mother having to queue up for certain groceries with her ration book.

“I don’t think we’re at that stage by a very long shot. This is just panic buying through rumour and because of that it is causing the stores to have depleted stock much too quickly.”