Newspaper headlines: PM thanks NHS staff after virus battle, and ICU drug fears

By BBC News


The Mail on Sunday and the Sunday Telegraph offer readers an insight into Boris Johnson's time in hospital.

The Mail says the prime minister came "close to death". Doctors at St Thomas' had been expecting him there three days before he was finally admitted. Having arrived through a "secret entrance", the paper says, Mr Johnson was put on oxygen through a tube within 10 minutes.

The Telegraph says his admission to intensive care left several Downing Street staff in tears. It quotes one senior official as saying: "you can't get the fear out of your head that he could take a turn for the worst." The paper goes on to say that, as well as Sudoku puzzles and films, the prime minister's recovery has been aided by Tintin books sent to him by his family.

"Failing the test", is the headline in the Sun on Sunday as it has an investigation into the speed at which drive-through sites are conducting Covid-19 examinations. The paper says that testing at sites including Boston and Wembley is being carried out at a "snail's pace". NHS staff and carers are being turned away because they do not have an appointment.

One nurse has told the paper she expected the centre at Chessington, south-west London, to be working at "full tilt" - only to find that it was closing for lunch. The Nottingham site is the only one to buck the trend, with around 100 tests per hour being carried out. The Department for Health said some centres were still in the "pilot phase" and that 27,000 NHS staff and their families have been tested.

The Sunday Times says that a new mobile app is a "central plank" of the government's attempts to lift the lockdown. Senior sources have told the paper the NHS is working with Google and Apple at breakneck speed.

The technology would let people know if they have come into contact with someone who has tested positive. Ministers are considering whether the app could allow for a return to a normal work and home life.

Extended lie-ins

A study by Kings College London has found two-thirds are now sleeping better - but a third are having restless nights caused by issues such as financial concerns. "To no-one's great surprise," the paper adds, teenagers appear to be enjoying extra time in bed - with one in three 11 to 16-year-olds enjoying extended lie-ins.

"Call for schools to open in the summer after lockdown," is a headline in the Observer. The paper has an interview with the children's commissioner, Anne Longfield, who suggests that a change in the traditional calendar could be vital to help children "learn and catch up" once the restrictions after lifted.

The proposal has been met with a lukewarm response from teachers, with the National Education Union saying it had "practical and contractual concerns". It adds that staff who have been left to supervise children of key workers may be left without a break.

Assange's children

"Mayday or we'll be at Whit's end" is the Sun on Sunday's headline about what it says is a row in cabinet over when to ease the lockdown.

The chancellor, Rishi Sunak, and Home Secretary Priti Patel reportedly think the action to halt the spread of coronavirus is worse than the disease.

They are believed to want to see an easing of restrictions in early May. But Health Secretary Matt Hancock and Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove want the next re-assessment of the measures to come after the late Whitsun Bank Holiday weekend at the end of May.

According to an unnamed source at the Ministry of Defence, senior civil servants have been told the measures will be in place until at least the 25th of May, after which they will be lifted "piecemeal".

The report adds that easing of the restrictions will be based "largely on geographical location" and how badly infected they are.

The Mail on Sunday carries what it calls a world exclusive about the Wikileaks founder, Julian Assange. having two children. The paper says his sons - aged three and one - were both conceived during his time in the Ecuadorian embassy in London.

The paper has spoken to the children's mother, who reveals that Assange watched both boys being born via video link and met one after he was smuggled into the embassy.

Details about the children were seen by the Mail in court documents as part of his US extradition case; he is also trying to secure bail from Belmarsh Prison following an outbreak of Covid-19 there.