Sunday Telegraph 19 April 2020

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Prime Minister Boris Johnson has begun issuing orders to ministers as he recovers from coronavirus, the Sunday Telegraph reports. The paper says Mr Johnson has started to “take back control” from the Chequers country residence, where he is recuperating. The PM has made a series of calls to First Secretary of State Dominic Raab and senior aides, the paper says.

The Sunday Times 19 April 2020

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But it’s the previous actions of the PM that receive the focus of The Sunday Times, which reports a “crucial” five week period was “lost” in the UK’s fight against coronavirus, during which Mr Johnson missed high-level meetings to discuss Covid-19. The paper says “government whistleblowers” have raised concerns over a lack of urgency as the threat from the virus grew in February. Separately, the paper says ministers are planning for schools to reopen in three weeks’ time.

Mail on Sunday 19 April 2020

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“Get Britain moving again,” says the Mail on Sunday, which says a “grand coalition” of senior figures from politics and business is calling on the government to “lift the shutters” and set out a plan to ease the coronavirus lockdown. Former cabinet ministers, the Labour leader Sir Kier Starmer and City bosses are among those asking No10 for clarity over a so-called exit strategy. Meanwhile, the paper reports Victoria Beckham’s fashion empire will make use of the government’s furlough scheme.

Observer 19 April 2020

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The Observer leads on a “stark message” from Prof David Nabarro – an expert in global health – who says the world shouldn’t count on a vaccine to help manage the coronavirus. Prof Nabarro tells the paper that people can’t assume a vaccine is a certain bet to protect the population from infection. The paper also reports how “lockdown shaming” has seen the police called to settle neighbourhood feuds during the pandemic.

Sunday Express 19 April 2020

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Our hard work is paying off, according to the Sunday Express. The paper says there is “new hope” as the number of patients in hospital with Covid-19 falls by 5%. It reports how a former boss of the London 2012 Olympics has been drafted in by the government to lead efforts to boost personal protective kit for front-line workers. Lord Deighton will become a “PPE tsar”, the Express says.

Sunday Mirror 19 April 2020

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The Sunday Mirror says 500 doctors have warned oxygen supplies for coronavirus patients “are falling worryingly low”. It says front-line medics “fear the worst case scenario” would see hosptials run out entirely.

Sunday Paper 19 April 2020

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“Suicidal and scared to hug their kids,” is the striking headline on the front page of the Sunday People. The paper reports on the “mental health agony” of those working on the NHS front line.

Sunday Star 19 April 2020

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A star of TV hit Gogglebox is “fighting for his life” after catching coronavirus, the Sunday Star says. The paper reports Jonathan Tapper is “unable to move” and the rest of his family is infected with Covid-19.

Many of Sunday’s front pages focus on the UK’s possible exit strategy from the coronavirus lockdown.

The Sunday Times reports that ministers have drawn up a three-phase plan to lift the restrictions, which could see school’s reopen as early as 11 May. Under the proposals, it says pupils would return to classes part-time – depending on their age – to aid social distancing.

The Sun on Sunday calls it a “traffic-light master plan”, which would see non-essential shops reopen within three weeks as part of a “red phase”, before some restaurants are allowed to operate a fortnight later in the “amber phase”. 

Both papers say the over-70s and others deemed vulnerable would be asked to continue living under lockdown conditions for more than a year. The plans will reportedly be presented to Prime Minister Boris Johnson when he returns to work.

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There is speculation in many papers about just when that may be. The Mail on Sunday says there is growing concern that Mr Johnson’s absence from Downing Street is hampering exit planning. In its editorial, the paper says recent figures suggesting a fall in hospital admissions are a cause for optimism.

Yet it laments what it calls “a sense of drift from inside government” with Whitehall leaks suggesting senior ministers are reluctant to take any major decisions on ending the lockdown in the prime minister’s absence. The paper urges the government to “offer a vision of a way back to a free and normal life”.

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But, while there are calls to concentrate minds on the future, there is also a continued focus on the predicament of NHS workers dealing with the virus here and now.

The Sunday Mirror says 500 doctors – who responded to a survey by the BMA – have warned that oxygen supplies are are running “worryingly low” at a “huge number” of hospitals. The paper says medics have laid bare “a horrifying lack of key supplies” – with hundreds of doctors saying they’re short of sedatives, painkillers and anaesthetics and one nurse admitting she has had to reuse syringes.

The Sunday People says thousands of health workers have turned to mental health crisis helplines as they struggle to cope with what it describes as “the horrors of the coronavirus frontline”. “Suicidal and afraid to hug their kids,” is the paper’s front page headline. One charity alone says it is being contacted by 50 health workers a day – amid fears that many staff will be affected by post traumatic stress disorder.

The Sunday Telegraph reports on emerging research about precisely who is at greater risk of being admitted to hospital with a severe form of the virus. The paper says a study into British patients suggests being overweight is one of the most important risk factors. The research – which has yet to be peer-reviewed – is based on an analysis of more than 15,000 cases and is said to be the biggest study of its kind.

Meanwhile, the Observer reports on concerns that so-called “lockdown shaming” is being used as a weapon in long-running neighbourhood feuds. The paper says police chiefs have complained about a rising number of false allegations being made about people breaking social distancing rules. Senior officers are urging the public to use “common sense” and not to exploit the pandemic to settle old scores.

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