Reckless thieves have been helping themselves to hand sanitiser from hospitals as national panic over coronavirus heightens.
Medics today pleaded with the public not to steal because it puts patients at risk.
In a Facebook plea, Northampton General Hospital said staff have noticed "a lot" of hand sanitiser going missing.
It comes as the number of confirmed coronavirus cases rose to 209 on Saturday – an increase of 45 in 24 hours.
The hospital wrote: "We're seeing a lot of hand sanitiser dispensers disappearing from the end of our patients' beds and from our welcome desks.
"Please help us to keep our patients safe by not removing the dispensers or using them to top up your own dispensers."
The Northampton Chronicle reports that a memo from the hospital's infection prevention team says ward managers have been asked to "monitor closely" any change in supply.
It said: “Whilst we acknowledge that there is potential for a national shortage of foam due to the coronavirus, we do not want our patients to be put at risk of other infections whilst they are in hospital.”
As a result, wards are being urged to ration the amount of hand sanitiser on each ward.
It comes as shops across the country report shortages of hand sanitiser and soaps.
Pictures from stores show empty shelves amid panic-buying which has seen stocks dramatically depleted.
Globally, the number of reported coronavirus cases has risen past 105,000, with more than 3,500 deaths.
Mainland China has the most cases at 80,652, followed by South Korea (7,041), Italy (5,883), Iran (5,823), Germany (799), France (716) and Spain (500).
The top ten is rounded out by Japan (461), the US (346) and Switzerland (268).
With 206 infections, the UK has the 11th-most cases in the world.
The total number of cases of Covid-19 in the Irish Republic increased to 19 on Saturday.
Pope Francis will live-stream Sunday services and other events online due to Italy's deadly coronavirus outbreak.
The 83-year-old pontiff, who is suffering from a cold, has cancelled all his regular appearances in public to prevent large gatherings at the Vatican.
He will not address crowds from a window overlooking St Peter's Square on Sunday as normal and he will not hold his general audience from there on Wednesday.
Tens of thousands of people flock to the Vatican to see the pope, who recently tested negative for the flu-like virus, known as Covid-19.
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