'Pingdemic' grips Britain as fears of food shortages grow

By Guy Faulconbridge and James Davey

LONDON (Reuters) -Britain's supermarkets, wholesalers and hauliers were struggling on Thursday to ensure stable food and fuel supplies after an official health app told hundreds of thousands of workers to isolate after contact with someone with COVID-19.

British newspapers carried front page pictures of empty shelves in supermarkets. Reuters reporters said food items were widely available in London shops although there were some shortages of bottled water, soft drinks, and some salad and meat products.

"We're very concerned about the situation," Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng told Sky when asked about reports of empty supermarket shelves in some areas. "We're monitoring the situation."

He said he did not recognise Sky's characterisation of "bare" supermarket shelves.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson's bet that he could reopen England's economy because so many people have been vaccinated has been tarnished by the so-called "pingdemic" in which people have been told by the app to isolate for 10 days.