Newspaper headlines: ‘War on virus’ with emergency laws and ‘battle’ plan

Newspaper headlines: 'War on virus' with emergency laws and 'battle' plan

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Emergency laws to tackle the coronavirus are to be announced next week, the Daily Mail reports. The paper says the new legislation will ensure public services and the transport network can keep operating if the outbreak gets worse. Meanwhile, the paper’s Scottish edition reports the NHS in Scotland is to trial “drive-through” testing for the virus in hospital grounds.

The Times

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The Times also focuses on the new laws. It says the legislation will mean schools, councils and the rest of the public sector will have powers to suspend rules – including health and safety measures. Teachers and nursery workers could be allowed to have bigger classes to deal with staff absences, it explains.

The i newspaper

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The impact of the virus on the global economy makes the front of the i newspaper, with a red graph showing the stark fall in the FTSE 100 this week. It is the sharpest weekly drop since the financial crisis of 2008, the paper says, with fears about the spread of the virus affecting “almost every sphere of business”.

The Financial Times

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The Financial Times also leads on the further tumble of global stock markets on Friday. Travel and leisure stocks in Europe plummeted as travellers put their plans on hold, the paper says – “the heaviest decline” since the September 2001 terror attacks.


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Former Chancellor George Osborne has urged the government to “go on to a war footing” against the coronavirus, the Daily Mirror reports. It comes as the first British person died and the number of cases in the UK rose to 20.


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The war metaphors continue in the Daily Telegraph, which reports that health officials are drawing up a “battle plan” to try and delay the spread of the outbreak. Operations could be cancelled and treatment “rationed”, the paper says. It says health officials fear 70% of Britons could develop the virus and around 15% could end up in hospital.

The Guardian

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Details of the official action plan are also set out in the Guardian, which says military medics, the British Red Cross and St John Ambulance would be drafted in to help the NHS cope with a major outbreak. The armed forces medics would cover NHS staff who had the virus and were too ill to work, the paper adds.

Daily Star

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The Daily Star focuses on a statement from officials in Hong Kong that weak traces of the virus have been found in a dog’s mouth and nasal passage. The incident marks a “twist” in the crisis, says the paper – although experts say there is no evidence the disease can be transmitted to pets. An inset picture on the front page shows a dog wearing a mask and being carried by a woman, also wearing a mask.

The Sun

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The Sun focuses on the first Briton to die from the virus. The paper says the man, aged in his 80s, was a passenger on the cruise ship in Japan which was quarantined after an outbreak on board. The paper adds that fears are growing that Premier League fixtures “could be wiped out for months”.

Daily Express

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The Daily Express reports on Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s comments saying the virus was the government’s “top priority”. He called on the public to help stop the outbreak spreading by washing their hands.

The coronavirus outbreak is the top story leading all of Saturday’s newspaper front pages.

Under the headline “outbreak could leave one in 10 in hospital”, the Daily Telegraph suggests health officials may cancel surgical operations as part of their emergency response, if there is a surge in coronavirus cases.

It says officials fear that 70% of people in the UK could become infected, with around 15% of them ending up in hospital.

But despite these concerns, its leader argues that “controlling panic is almost as important as fighting the disease”.

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PA Media

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Some people in the UK are wearing face masks – although it is not official government advice

The Daily Mirror says the length of time taken by Boris Johnson to convene the emergency committee Cobra smacks of “unacceptable complacency”.

The Sun believes “the coronavirus has not been Boris Johnson’s finest hour… yet”.

But the Daily Express is more supportive of the prime minister, saying he “is right to make dealing with the coronavirus his top priority”, as he revealed on Friday.

Market chaos

Many of the newspapers focus on what the Daily Telegraph’s front page describes as “stock market chaos” – the plummeting value of shares worldwide, in response to the coronavirus.

The i newspaper’s headline is “virus shock to global economy” and the paper quotes one broker as saying “the panic mode is full on”.

Another explains that “the fear of the unknown is causing traders to lose their nerve and just cut and run”.

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Getty Images

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Global shares suffered their worst week since the 2008 financial crisis

But the Daily Express attempts to reassure those spooked by nose-diving share prices.

“The best thing investors can do,” it suggests, “is to sit tight.”

It points out that often when markets fall sharply, they bounce back quickly – which means those who panic and sell will lose out.

It concludes that people with investments in stocks should “perhaps stop looking at your portfolio for a while”.

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Ex-chancellor Sajid Javid quit after a row over merging his team with No 10’s advisers

The Times expresses disappointment that the former Chancellor Sajid Javid did not get to deliver what the paper describes as his “radical budget plans”.

Mr Javid, who stepped down earlier this month during a cabinet reshuffle, has given an interview to the paper in which he says he had intended to cut 2p from the basic rate of income tax.

He was apparently also keen to reduce stamp duty and offer relief for capital investment.

Under the headline “right ideas”, the paper argues that “the government needs to think boldly if it is to achieve the radical transformation of Britain it has promised”.

‘Closer to Glastonbury’

Under the headline “Greta’s green disciples”, the Daily Mail considers Friday’s appearance in Bristol by the climate activist Greta Thunberg.

There is a picture – spread across two pages – of the huge crowd that gathered, with the tiny figure of the Swedish campaigner, clad in a yellow raincoat, only just visible.

“Soaked, woke and angry though they might have been,” the report begins, “the younger residents of Bristol were in carnival mood”.

The paper says the atmosphere was “closer to Glastonbury-meets-royal-visit than a normal demonstration”.

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Greta led the march in Bristol after making her speech

The Sun picks up on a line from Ms Thunberg’s speech, with the headline “the world is on fire”.

But it then subverts her message by referring to the wet weather: “er, actually Greta, it’s chucking it down”.

The Guardian spoke to several of those who’d turned up to see her. One 15-year-old tells the paper: “We want to help make a change. Greta’s really brave and inspirational”.

The Telegraph quotes a student saying: “She’s like Gandhi.”

Mantel v influencer

The Guardian is angry about the humanitarian crisis in northern Syria – caused by the government offensive, backed by Russia, against rebels in the city of Idlib.

It suggests the international community has been prompted to call for an end to hostilities not just because of the horrors caused by the fighting – but also in response to Turkey’s announcement that it will no longer prevent Syrian refugees travelling to Europe.

“What it takes to puncture indifference,” its leader says, “is not the suffering of ordinary men, women and children – but the prospect that they might escape it by coming to our shores”.

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Finally, the Times has bad news for Dame Hilary Mantel, who will publish The Mirror and The Light, the final instalment of her Thomas Cromwell trilogy, next month.

The paper says pre-sales of the much-anticipated novel have been eclipsed by The Little Book of Lists, a book by the social media influencer, Sophie Hinchliffe – who has in the past written about household cleaning tips.

The headline is: “Instagram star mops the floor with Mantel.”

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