Supermarket shelves could be left empty in a matter of weeks.

A staff shortage resulting from the so-called Pingdemic could have major implications according to the chief executive of the Road Haulage Association, Richard Burnett.

Speaking on Radio 4, he said: “This is a crisis on a scale we have never seen before in this industry and the Government is burying its head in the sand.

"It is not recognising the seriousness.

“In the next two to three weeks we are facing a collapse of the supply chain meaning even bigger gaps on supermarket shelves.

"We already have hauliers unable to move goods on a daily basis and we’re now facing a perfect storm."

The government has urged customers not to panic buy although business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng last week said he was "concerned" by pictures of empty shelves.

Tony Danker, director-general of the Confederation of British Industry, said: “The Government said they were reopening the economy but the pingdemic is effectively closing it down.

"There are hundreds of businesses have been in touch with us to describe scenarios where the scale of people self-isolating, testing negative by the way but self-isolating, is so big that they are basically bringing core operations to a close."