Businesses caught abusing the coronavirus epidemic to squeeze extra profit from worried residents by raising prices will be named and shamed, an MP has warned.

Labour’s Ilford North MP Wes Streeting has promised to protect his constituents from opportunistic profiteering.

He has called for residents to report any businesses found bulk buying from supermarkets to then sell on at increased prices to his office.

In a tweet, Mr Streeting, who has represented Ilford North since 2015, said: “I’ve had a report of one local business bulk-buying supermarket products and then selling them in their own shop at double the price. I’ll be making it clear that any more of this and I’ll be naming, shaming and running a boycott. Ilford N residents: let me know if this happens.”

As of March 16, there were four confirmed cases of of Covid-19 in Redbridge, 480 in London and 1,543 across the UK.

Many supermarkets and stores have experience bulk 'panic buying' of sanitary products and non-perishable foods, despite the government and top scientists' advice against the practice.

As a result, the UK's market watchdog is considering asking the government to directly regulate prices of hand sanitiser and other items.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) says it wants to ensure traders do not exploit the current situation to take advantage of people.

The watchdog will consider any evidence that companies may have broken competition or consumer protection law, for example by charging excessive prices or making misleading claims about the efficacy of protective equipment. And it will take direct enforcement action in appropriate cases.

CMA chairman Lord Tyrie said: “We will do whatever we can to act against rip-offs and misleading claims, using any or all of our tools; and where we can’t act, we’ll advise government on further steps they could take, if necessary.”

Andrea Coscelli, CMA chief executive, added: “We urge retailers to behave responsibly throughout the coronavirus outbreak and not to make misleading claims or charge vastly inflated prices. We also remind members of the public that these obligations may apply to them too if they resell goods, for example on online marketplaces.”

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