Newspaper headlines: Virus 'strikes at heart of government'

By BBC News

  • Published
Health Secretary Matt Hancock watching Prime Minister Boris Johnson speak during Prime Minister's Questions in the House of Commons, London, both of them have tested positive for coronavirusImage source, PA Media
Image caption,
Mr Johnson and Mr Hancock were seen together at PMQs on Wednesday

Most of Saturday's papers lead on the prime minister and the health secretary testing positive for Covid-19 - and the news that England's Chief Medical Officer is in self-isolation with symptoms.

"Coronavirus strikes at heart of government", "Number 10 Virus Bombshell" and "Crisis as big three hit by virus" are among the headlines.

The Daily Mail asks why Boris Johnson and Matt Hancock did not practise what they preached when it comes to social distancing, saying they were pictured at close quarters in the House of Commons in recent days.

The Sun's take is that Covid-19 is starting to "rip through" the top of government, leaving aides wondering "who's next?" - or "flu's next?" - as the headline reads.

The prime minister's diagnosis also makes the headlines on the other side of the world. In Australia, the Sydney Daily Telegraph says "Boris Gets The Bug", describing the prime minister as the UK's "second highest-profile" victim of the virus, after Prince Charles tested positive just days earlier.

The Financial Times claims the government has missed opportunities to acquire more medical ventilators to help people with respiratory difficulties caused by the coronavirus. The paper has spoken to companies which say their offers to provide additional machines have not been taken up.

The Italian novelist Francesca Melandri has written what's billed as a letter "from your future" in the Guardian, as she describes the storm of emotions being experienced by people in her home country that the UK can expect in the coming days and weeks.

Her predictions include plenty of eating - because it is one of the few things you can still do, discovering the true nature of those around you and, at points, being afraid.

Image source, EPA
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More than 9,000 people in Italy have died with coronavirus

The front page of the Times includes a study which suggests that Britain is currently on course for 5,700 deaths from coronavirus - far fewer than originally predicted.

The scientists behind the research, at Imperial College London, say they have based their calculations on the assumption that the country will follow the same path as China.

They have emphasised that this does not mean previous estimates were alarmist - but that the government's social distancing strategy is working.

The Daily Telegraph reports on the testing of frontline NHS staff, which is expected to begin this weekend. It says a source close to the Government has said antibody tests will soon be available to confirm whether someone has had coronavirus and is now immune.

It also says public health officials are looking at whether people could be given a certificate which allows them to leave lockdown and get back to work.

The Daily Express reports on the University of Oxford scientists who are recruiting volunteers to try out a coronavirus vaccine.

They will need up to 510 healthy adults from the Thames Valley area who will either be given the inoculation or a control injection for comparison. The paper explains that the vaccine won't be ready for a number of weeks.

And the Daily Star is concerned about the safety of postal workers who are delivering what it describes as a "mountain of stuff" being ordered to "ease the coronavirus lockdown boredom".

The paper is urging people to keep their front doors clean, with the headline "Scrub Yer Knobs and Knockers".