Newspaper headlines: 'Tougher lockdown' warning and protect medics call

Observer front page

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The Observer leads with a warning from the prime minister that the coronavirus outbreak is likely to worsen and he is prepared to tighten the UK’s lockdown if necessary. The country’s 30 million households will receive a letter from Boris Johnson this week, which will also detail the government’s guidance on social distancing, symptoms and handwashing, the paper reports.

Sunday Express front page

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The Sunday Express says the prime minister’s “bleak message” came as the UK death toll rose above 1,000 on Saturday. In his letter, Mr Johnson emphasises the country is facing a “national emergency” and pleads with the public to stay at home to protect the NHS and save lives, the paper reports.

Sunday Telegraph front page

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The Sunday Telegraph also leads with the PM’s letter, quoting the prime minister as saying that the more “we all follow the rules”, the fewer lives will be lost and the sooner life can return to normal. The paper says there are fears the UK is following the course of Italy and Spain – the two worst affected European countries so far.

Sunday Mirror front page

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The Sunday Mirror calls for the UK to “protect our doctors and nurses” on its front page, alongside a photo of workers at London’s Excel centre, which is being turned into a temporary hospital. The paper says medics are pleading for more protective masks and gowns to stop them becoming “sitting ducks”. It quotes Dr Hisham El Khidir, cousin of one of the first UK doctors to die from the virus, saying that without better protection, more medics will lose their lives.

Sunday Times front page

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The government’s leading epidemiology adviser has warned the UK must remain in full lockdown until June if it is to avoid the worst effects of the coronavirus, the Sunday Times reports. Prof Neil Ferguson said even when the lockdown is lifted some measures would remain for months. But some senior government figures are more optimistic, suggesting restrictions could be lifted earlier, with the peak of the crisis predicted for the week of 12 April, the paper adds.

Sunday People front page

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The Sunday People carries comments from NHS England medical director Stephen Powis, who has said that keeping the UK’s death toll below 20,000 would be a good result. But Prof Powis also warned that many more will die if the public do not stick to government guidance.

Daily Star front page

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Meanwhile, the Daily Star wants more support for waste collectors, who are calling for strict safety measures to protect them from the virus. “Don’t be rubbish to our bin men,” the paper tells its readers, urging the public to throw away less to keep services going.

Mail on Sunday front page

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The Mail on Sunday reports ministers and senior Downing Street officials are “furious” at how China has handled the outbreak and say the country risks becoming a “pariah state”. They believe China has run a “campaign of misinformation” and attempted to exploit the pandemic for economic gain, according to the paper.

Many of the front pages highlight the letter written by Boris Johnson – to be sent to every household in the country this week – warning that the coronavirus crisis will get worse before it gets better.

The Observer describes the message as “stark”, while the Sunday Express says the “bleak” letter emphasises that the UK is facing a national emergency.

According to the Sun on Sunday it is the first time in decades that a prime minister has written to every household to seek their help in defeating a common enemy.

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PA Media

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Mr Johnson is self-isolating after testing positive for Covid-19

The Sunday Times focuses on comments by a leading government adviser who has warned that Britain must remain in full lockdown until June to avoid the worst effects of the pandemic.

Prof Neil Ferguson says he believes “May is optimistic” for the current restrictions to be lifted – and suggests that when they are, “people would probably still be asked to enforce some social distancing for months more”.

The paper says cabinet sources have indicated that two criteria would have to be met before the government ends the lockdown – “the number of new cases must be stable or falling and the critical care capacity of NHS hospitals must not be exceeded”.

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The front page of the Mail on Sunday claims allies of Boris Johnson have “turned on China” over the crisis, arguing Beijing’s behaviour during the pandemic will eventually result in a “reckoning” in relations.

Ministers and senior Downing Street officials are said to be “furious” over what the Mail describes as “China’s campaign of misinformation, attempts to exploit the situation for economic gain, and atrocious animal rights record”.

Writing in the paper, the former Conservative leader, Iain Duncan-Smith, says nations have “lamely kow-towed” to China for too long and once we get clear of the pandemic, “it is imperative that we all rethink that relationship”.

Many of the papers feature personal stories of some of those in the frontline of the fight against the virus. Saleyha Ahsan – who is an A&E doctor in Bangor, north Wales – has told the Sunday Mirror it is the scariest place she has ever worked.

She previously saw conflict in Syria as an army captain but says “right now is when I’ve felt the most afraid”.

“It’s because this is home. There’s no plane out of here,” she tells the paper.

An anonymous doctor working at a hospital in London has kept a diary of their week for the Mail on Sunday. They describe the “never-ending flood” of patients and say they are “forced to play God” due to the “frightening shortage” of equipment.

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PA Media

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Derbyshire Police said people had been gathering at the Blue Lagoon in “contravention of the current instruction of the UK government”

Finally, the Sunday Times suggests the enforcement of social distancing “sank to new depths” when police poured black dye into the water at a beauty spot to make it look less appealing.

The paper says Derbyshire Police acted after receiving reports of people breaking the virus restrictions by gathering in bright sunshine at the Blue Lagoon in Buxton – prompting officers to decide it should become the murky, black lagoon for the duration of the lockdown.

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