Residents in south east London have been warned of rogue traders selling dodgy face masks and hand sanitisers, as Boris Johnson hinted at news laws being introduced to tackle outlets and individuals price gouging during the coronavirus crisis.

Trading standards officers visited two shops last week selling disposable face masks which had been split into separate packages, interfering with the manufacturer’s integrity, according to Greenwich Council.

Officers also found a number of “potentially irregular” hand sanitisers for sale.

The authority said all products were immediately withdrawn.

It comes as Prime Minister Boris Johnson this week said he would look to impose a legal crack down to stop those profiteering on the black market as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

Accounts of price gouging by sellers have been widely reported over the last week, as panic buying saw shelves stripped day-after-day of long-life food, cleaning products and toilet paper ahead of the foreshadowed lockdown being announced on Monday.

During Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday, the Tory leader said the government “should” look at introducing new laws to tackle black marketeers profiteering from the unprecedented demand for household cleaning items.

“Yes indeed, and I think that profiteering is something that we should be looking at from a legislative point of view in this House as has happened before in this country,” he told members.

Greenwich Council acknowledged face masks had limited use outside of medical settings and urged the public to continue practising social distancing and good hand washing practice.

“Face masks play a very important role in clinical settings such as hospitals but there’s very little evidence of widespread benefit from their use outside of these clinical settings,” the authority stated.

“The best defence is to wash our hands for at least 20 seconds, using soap and hot water, or hand sanitiser if soap and hot water is not available. As well as always carrying tissues and using them to catch coughs and sneezes, then putting the tissue in a bin. Please note that a hand sanitiser must contain more than 60 per cent alcohol to be effective.”