A range of stories feature on the front pages of Tuesday’s newspapers.
Confirmation that China’s new strain of corona virus can be passed from human to human makes many papers.
The Guardian says the news has fuelled anxiety about the prospect of a “full-fledged outbreak”, while the Financial Times quotes the first statement of the Chinese President Xi Jinping on the crisis – calling for all steps to be taken to contain the virus.
“Hall over now” is the Sun’s take on the announcement that the BBC’s director general, Tony Hall is to step down after seven years in the job.
Its leader suggests that he’ll be remembered as “the BBC boss who betrayed over-75s” by stripping them of the free licences “he promised to” fund.
The i newspaper is among many papers to speculate on possible contenders to succeed Lord Hall – publishing a list of seven “runners and riders”. More than half on the list are female, as the newspaper ponders “will a woman be next?”
The Daily Telegraph’s editorial paints a bleak picture. “The BBC needs to change to survive,” it claims, as it suggests that the new DG will face a “monumental” task, with the future of the BBC less clear than ever.
Meanwhile, in the newspaper’s front page Matt cartoon, corporation staff are shown having a whip-round for the departing Lord Hall. The accompanying caption reads: “A fiver for men and a tenner for women”.
Under the headline “terrorists to be denied early release from prison”, the Daily Telegraph leads with details of what it describes as the government’s “crackdown” on terrorism which will see stricter controls and tougher punishments for the most dangerous offenders.
“Boris blitz on terror” is the Metro’s take as it sets out how lie detectors could be used to check terrorists have genuinely reformed before they are released from prison.
But the Mail’s coverage sounds a note of caution on suggestions that the detectors could also be used to establish whether released offenders have broken the conditions of their parole.
Professor David Canter of Liverpool University points out for the benefit of the paper’s readers, that polygraph tests aren’t 100% foolproof – and that the findings from such tests aren’t admissible in courts as evidence.
The front page of the Times suggests there are grounds for “growing optimism” over Britain’s economic outlook.
It reports a new assessment by the International Monetary Fund that the British economy will grow faster than that of any other major European country this year and next if there’s an orderly Brexit. The forecast marks a contrast with the IMF’s global predictions.
Under the headline “downbeat IMF outlook diverts Davos focus from climate goals”, the FT reports that forecasts for global economic growth for this year and next have been cut – casting a shadow over the opening of the World Economic Forum in Switzerland.
Meanwhile, the Times also reports that the health watchdog has been forced to retract 38 inspection reports into care and nursing homes, mainly in the north of England, after finding that significant sections of them had been “faked”.
The same patient quotes and other duplicate material were found in 78 reports.
Some were allowed to stand after the copied and pasted material was removed – but re-inspections have had to be ordered for nearly 40 homes.
The Care Quality Commission tells the paper that it had identified three individuals who were responsible – and immediately removed them from inspection activity.
Many papers ponder the enormous political headache being created by the HS2 project.
The Financial Times sets out in detail not only the spiralling costs of the line, but also that those funds could provide 200 flagship hospitals, or 1.7 million social homes – as much a stated priority for the government as narrowing the North-South divide.
Hugo Gye’s analysis in the i newspaper is blunt: “Johnson has sat on the fence for long enough”.
He says while the spiralling costs of HS2 had been common knowledge for months, Mr Johnson had avoided making a call on its future ahead of the general election, knowing a decision either way would anger thousands.
Now, says Gye, the PM cannot walk the tightrope much longer and must face a major test rather than “ducking divisive decisions”.
“Chelsea’s potty idea” is the Daily Mail’s scathing view of a new houseplant category to be introduced by the Royal Horticultural Society at its famously glamorous London show this May.
RHS Director Helena Pettit advises cheerily: “People are increasingly recognising the benefits of indoor greenery.”
But the paper smells a rat, not roses. It paints the change as a bid to appeal to millennials who live in cities and don’t have a garden.