Boots stores in Edinburgh have ‘completely run out’ of face masks in the wake of fears coronavirus may have reached the UK.

Three patients were being tested for the deadly virus, which has put the Chinese city of Wuhan on lockdown, in the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh.

Pharmacists in the Capital have reportedly been inundated with requests for face masks - despite warnings from an academic that they are not effective.

READ MORE: Scottish universities reassure students over Wuhan partnerships

A sign in the window of Boots on Patrick Street read ‘Unfortunately we do not have any surgical or face masks in store’.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, a Boots worker said: "We are completely out of stock for the masks and the hand gels.

"There are certainly a lot more customers coming in at the moment, and hundreds are asking for masks on a daily basis.

"People keep coming in, mainly Chinese students, asking for face masks but we have completely run out, across the whole city.

"I don't know who the other pharmacies use for suppliers, but our suppliers are completely out.

"We have also run out of all hand gels and sanitisers at our store."

She estimated that around 200 masks were being sold per day in the aftermath of the suspected outbreak.

Professor Hugh Pennington, emeritus professor of bacteriology at the University of Aberdeen said: “A mask is not particularly effective as most of the air comes out the other side of the mask when you’re breathing.

READ MORE: What is Coronavirus and what should we do?

“I’ve always been suspicious of surgical type masks.

"They were introduced about 100 years ago and they’ve never been properly assessed and the way that people wear them suggests to me that although they may reduce transmission a bit but they certainly don’t make you safe.

“If you’re breathing in contaminated air the only way to stop the virus is to have proper filters and the cotton masks that people have don’t fill round the edge."