Newspaper headlines: Tests for 'killer virus' in Britain and HS2 report

Passengers in Hangzhou, China are screened with temperature checks after arriving from Wuhan Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Passengers in Hangzhou, China are screened with temperature checks after arriving from Wuhan

Most of the papers feature pictures of people wearing face masks amid fears about the new coronavirus and the risk to the UK.

"Growing fears over virus as tests begin in Britain," is the headline in the Times.

It says Downing Street is carefully monitoring the outbreak of the coronavirus - the previously unknown disease that has killed at least seventeen people in China.

It is one of several papers to explain that scientists believe the virus may have originated in bats, then moved to snakes, then on to humans.

The Daily Mail's front page asks: "Is the killer virus here?"

It says British officials fear thousands of Chinese students, who have gone home to celebrate their New Year, could return to the UK unaware they have coronavirus - which has killed seventeen people in China.

It also reports that the government here has faced criticism - because while other countries had begun health screening for travellers from China, people arriving at UK airports were just given information leaflets.

The i newspaper agrees, saying that ministers deserve a "rap on the knuckles" for failing to introduce temperature tests for those coming from infected areas.

But it believes there are what it calls "grounds for optimism" in tackling the virus.

It says these include China's willingness to share information about the outbreak - and its quick action in declaring the affected cities quarantine zones.

The Daily Mail and the Daily Mirror focus on Huanan Seafood Market in the Chinese city of Wuhan - where they say officials suspect the mutation of the virus from animals to humans took place.

Both report that the selling of living wild animals, in crowded conditions, could have played a role.

The Mirror says the outbreak has "put the country's poorly regulated wild animal trade - driven by demand for exotic delicacies and ingredients for traditional medicine - under the spotlight".

Image copyright EPA
Image caption There are no planes or trains in or out of Wuhan, where people are being treated

The leader column in the Daily Telegraph argues that the outbreak should prompt people to reconsider the danger posed by global warming.

"Amid all the current doom-mongering about climate change," it says, "this is not the greatest threat to humanity."

It highlights the huge numbers of people killed by the Black Death in the 14th century, and the Spanish flu pandemic in 1919 - and concludes that "the current fixation on climate risks distracting us from an even greater, imminent menace".

HS2 report

The Guardian leads on the publication of the National Audit Office review of the high speed rail scheme, HS2.

It prompts the paper's columnist, Simon Jenkins, to consider how the Prime Minister will solve the ongoing controversy about the project's expense.

"HS2," he argues, "no longer has anything to do with trains, let alone economics, politics or the north-south balance. It is about Boris Johnson and what sort of leader he intends to be".

The leader in the Daily Mirror describes HS2 as "2 vital to lose".

It accepts that the mounting cost of the scheme is "concerning" - but it argues that the case for the high-speed link is compelling "with unions, business leaders and politicians in the North and Midlands backing it".

Matt, the cartoonist in the Telegraph, pokes fun at the story. A model railway enthusiast is seen telling a friend: "I've built this painstakingly accurate scale model of the HS2 line". The attic room they're standing in is empty.

Image copyright Siemens/ PA
Image caption No-one took full account of how complex the HS2 project was likely to be, says a watchdog

The Guardian's leader column focuses on the announcement that the Victoria Derbyshire programme is being shut down by the BBC.

The paper sees the demise of the current affairs show as a direct result of what it calls an "orchestrated campaign by politicians, corporate rivals and right wing think tanks - in a war against the BBC".

And it calls on the prime minister to take up what it describes as a "sensible suggestion" by peers - of setting up an independent and transparent process to review the license fee.

But the Sun has a different view. It accuses management at the corporation of axing the programme "because the more visible the cut, the easier it is for luvvies to pretend that the BBC is the blameless victim of evil Tory austerity".

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Finally, the Daily Express celebrates the restoration of a Second World War Hawker Hurricane plane - which had been stuck in a bog for five decades.

The aircraft was shot down in 1940, crashing into marshes in Kent.

The paper explains that it was discovered in the 1990s by metal detectorists.

The project to bring it back to its former glory was masterminded by a neurosurgeon - Peter Kirkpatrick - who was at the controls when the plane made its first flight in 79 years.