Fearful Britons stock up on tissues and soap

Demand for anti-bacterial soaps and other products has risen sharply as people try to avoid catching swine flu.

Sales of cough, cold and flu remedies have risen 70 per cent, antibacterial soaps by 54 per cent and normal soap by 20 per cent since the flu outbreak began. Sales of tissues are also up 10 per cent on last year.

The NHS advises people to wash their hands regularly with soap to prevent infection but it does not specify the use of anti-bacterial soap since it has no added power against the virus.

The shopping website MySupermarket.co.uk recorded the sales which included a 279 per cent rise in the sale of the anti-bacterial Carex Hand Gel.

The website spokesman Jonny Steel said: "Cough and flu medicines are also racing off the shelves, which suggests that people are stocking up their medicine cabinets, in case they fall ill ... it's the antibacterial soap products that have really seen massive growth. People are clearly becoming more hygiene-conscious in the wake of the swine flu pandemic."