Newspaper headlines: '7,500 care home deaths' and British vaccine hopes

By BBC News
Staff

Published
Image source, PA Media

A warning from hospital bosses that supplies of some protective clothing could run out this weekend features on a number of Saturday's front pages.

The Guardian reports on what it describes as a "significant U-turn" by Public Health England - which has changed its guidance for NHS workers in light of the shortages. The paper says the changes - which include using plastic aprons - leaves doctors and nurses fearing that more of them could fall ill.

The Independent website, meanwhile, has seen a leaked email that warns most trusts will run out of the gowns over the next couple of days - and stocks may not be replaced until the middle of June.

The Daily Mirror takes a dim view of Health Secretary Matt Hancock's response to questions about protective clothing supplies yesterday - in which he told MPs he wished he could "wave a magic wand" and have "PPE fall from the sky". It is clear, the paper says, he is "rattled" and "floundering" - while doctors and nurses are left "nearly defenceless".

'Squandered'

In its editorial, the Mirror says the UK had time to prepare for the outbreak - but there's "mounting evidence" ministers "squandered" that crucial chance to get ahead of the game. A Whitehall source tells the Times that the shortage of gowns is down to the government failing to stockpile enough equipment as part of its planning for a pandemic.

The Daily Telegraph leads on the number of suspected deaths from coronavirus in care homes. The paper says 7,500 residents are now feared to have died. Care England tells the paper it came up with the estimate by "taking a sounding" from the three and a half thousand homes it represents.

In its editorial, the Telegraph says the elderly in care homes "deserve protection and treatment - and if they're not getting it, we need to know why".

The Daily Mail, the i Weekend, the Sun and the Daily Express all lead on hopes for a vaccine - claiming British scientists could have one ready by September.

The Express says Britain is "spearheading the global race" - with a team of researchers at Oxford University thought to be the country's "best hope".

The Times points out that if they are successful, the biggest manufacturing plants for the vaccine would be in China and India. The paper quotes a biologist who says Britain has let its vaccine industry "slip away". If the UK wants to make millions of doses of a vaccine, he says, it is "simply not in the game anymore".

And the Telegraph reports that one of the world's best darts players has been forced to withdraw from a virtual tournament - hailed as the first live sport to be shown in the UK since all events were cancelled due to coronavirus.

The former world champion, Gary Anderson, was hoping to compete in the Professional Darts Corporation Home Tournament live from his living room last night - but pulled out when he found the internet connection to his home in rural Somerset was too slow. "I was up for it" he tells the Sun, "it's really frustrating".

His broadband provider, BT, did not respond to a request for comment.