SHOPPERS were left seething after a local pound shop advertised anti-bacterial hand gel for £20 a bottle as the coronavirus outbreak intensified.

Poundplus Extra on Princes Street in Port Glasgow was shamed for 'cashing in' on the crisis, with people on social media saying they would boycott the business.

When the Telegraph visited the premises yesterday a staff member firstly claimed they had not been selling it, despite pictures to the contrary being widely circulated online, then he stated it was simply a 'joke' for local customers as a result of the recent run on the product.

The staff member said: "We were asked to order it in but it is retailing at £22.99 online.

"We only got two bottles and placed one there as a joke."

But the shop was heavily criticised as people on Facebook complained the gel had been selling for £3 beforehand and that the shop should be 'ashamed'.

One person posted: "It's disgusting. They should be reported to trading standards.

Another said: "Vulnerable people may panic and buy this - shameful."

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has already warned retailers and brands not to 'exploit' people's concerns about the coronavirus by increasing the price of products such as hand sanitisers, face masks or wipes.

CMA chairman Lord Tyrie said: “We will do whatever we can to act against rip-offs, using any or all of our tools."

Meanwhile supermarkets in the area continue to be stripped of cupboard essentials as many local people stockpile and ignore warnings not to panic buy.

Shoppers are leaving shelves bare of toilet paper, pasta and tinned foods.

When the Tele visited Morrisons, Tesco and Aldi yesterday many essential items were either low in stock or completely sold out.

Tesco and Aldi had no loo roll and there were only a couple of packs left at Morrisons.

Across all the stores, supplies of pasta and tinned food such as soup and baked beans were badly depleted.

Empty shelves were also evident in the meat aisles due to people panic buying chicken and beef.

The household cleaning aisles had also been stripped of products such as antibacterial wipes and hand sanitiser.

Other products in heavy demand include eggs, long life milk and paracetamol.

Supermarkets have urged shoppers not to buy any more goods than they need.

Meanwhile the coronavirus community crackdown continues, with a string of local events called off due to the outbreak, with everything from grassroots sport to community centre activities badly hit.

One Greenock church took the unprecedented step of cancelling Sunday worship for the first time in living memory to protect their mainly elderly congregation.

The Lyle Kirk made the decision to suspend services as the government stepped up measures to stop the spread and keep the over-70s safe.

Session clerk Ross Finnie, a former MSP who was Scottish environment minister during the 2001 foot and mouth outbreak and the bird flu scare in 2006, told the Tele that it was a difficult decision to make.

Together with interim moderator Reverend Morris Coull they are putting an operation in place to keep in touch with their older parishioners and ensure their safety.

Long-standing member Lyle Kirk member Mr Finnie said: "It was a hard decision to take, I don't remember anything like this in my lifetime.

"It was based on the demographic of our congregation.

"Our congregation is maybe 70 or 80 per cent elderly, it was too big a risk to take.

"Any outbreaks in the past have never had the impact that this one has on the elderly - they are the most vulnerable.

"We took the advice of the government and the Church of Scotland and decided to act in the best interests of our congregation to eliminate."

Nationally the Church of Scotland is not issuing advice for services to stop, and elsewhere in Inverclyde congregations continued to gather while other activities like coffee mornings and groups were cancelled.

Mr Finnie added: "The important thing for us now is that our ministry carries on.

"Our elders will be in touch with all our members and we have to look after our elderly."

Former Greenock councillor Mr Finnie was a long-serving Scottish Executive minister and in his cabinet role he was in charge of the response to a number of big public health problems.

He told the Tele: "We have had issues before with SARS and other outbreaks but this time it is the elderly who are particularly vulnerable.

"We must do whatever we can to protect our congregation."

As well as calling off Sunday services, which take place in the Newark Street building, the church has also suspended all Lyle Gateway social group activities at its Union Street building.