Newspaper headlines: Test pledge as government admits to virus mistakes

By BBC News

A handout image released by 10 Downing Street, shows Britain"s Health Secretary Matt Hancock attending a remote press conference to update the nation on the COVID-19 pandemic, inside 10 Downing Street in central London on April 2, 2020. - Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Thursday Britain would "massively increase testing" for the COVID-19 virus as the country recorded more than 500 daily deaths for a second consecutive dayImage source, Getty Images
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The papers focus on Matt Hancock's pledge to boost testing to 100,000 per day by the end of the month

"Everyone will hope Mr Hancock delivers on his promise".

That's the view of the Daily Mirror, which, like many papers, gives a broad welcome to the government's re-vamped strategy to increase testing for coronavirus.

Only through testing can NHS staff know if they are safe to return to work, the paper argues, and only through testing can we judge when it will be safe to lift the lockdown restrictions.

Should Mr Hancock fail, it concludes, the cost will not be his job but lives lost.

The Sun takes aim at Public Health England, saying the crisis has laid bare its complacency and ineptitude.

For years this monument to "bloated, sluggish bureaucracy" has banged on obsessively about obesity but facing the gravest crisis in a century, its failings have been hideously exposed.

The Times believes that the government's call on Britain's extensive network of university and private-sector laboratories to join the national testing effort is the right strategy, but it should have been adopted weeks ago.

It says blame for what it calls "this shambles" lies not with Public Health England but squarely with the government. It has been, the paper argues, consistently behind the curve in its response to the pandemic.

Mr Hancock has made a big promise, it says. If he can't deliver, public confidence in the government will evaporate.

According to the Daily Telegraph, public health officials in charge of defending the country from a major pandemic never drew up plans for mass community testing, despite warnings from the World Health Organization.

It's been told emergency planners "did not discuss" the need for community testing because they wrongly believed a new strain of influenza would be the next outbreak to strike the UK.

The Guardian highlights new data which suggests the coronavirus outbreak took hold earlier in the UK than previously thought.

It says according to NHS England the earliest death occurred on 28 February, almost a week earlier than previously acknowledged.

The Financial Times leads on the economic shockwaves the virus is continuing to make around the world.

It says about four million French workers have applied for temporary unemployment benefits during the past two weeks, while Spain has recorded the biggest jump in unemployment in its history, with more than 800,000 people losing their jobs last month.

The New York Times says the reported loss of 10 million jobs in the US shows the scope of the unfolding economic disaster.

It says hopes for a dramatic but brief downturn followed by a quick recovery have faded, and in their place are fears that the world may be on the cusp of an economic shock unseen since the Great Depression.

It says the speed and scale of the job losses is without precedent.

And finally, the Daily Mail is among the papers paying tribute to the comedian Eddie Large whose partnership with Syd Little spanned five decades.

The two men met in a pub in Wythenshawe when Eddie heckled Syd during a stand-up routine before joining him on stage.

After winning the talent show Opportunity Knocks, they went on to become one of the biggest acts of the 1970s and 80s.

At their peak, the Guardian says, their weekly television show was watched by an enviable 15 million people.