Newspaper headlines: Infection rate 'hope' - but care home cases rise

By BBC News


"Dare we hope" that the "tide is turning in the Covid battle?" asks the Daily Express on its front page.

The Daily Mail declares: "At last... infection rates in retreat."

But the Metro focuses on the hospitals with "no beds left", where patients are being wheeled back into ambulances for treatment.

According to the Guardian, in London some people who are seriously ill are being sent as far afield as Newcastle. Doctors in the North East are concerned they will not be able to cope with the influx.

Meanwhile, the Daily Telegraph reports that outbreaks in care homes have trebled in a month and are at levels similar to those in the peak of the first wave.

The paper raises concerns that the vaccine rollout in care homes is taking longer than expected.

Rights for Residents, which represents families who use care homes, tells the Times that they are livid about a plan to discharge Covid-19 patients who have self-isolated into homes from hospitals without re-testing them.

No 10 tells the Daily Mirror that it is not repeating fatal mistakes, and the guidance was approved by Public Health England and deputy chief medical officers.

Image source, PA Media
Image caption,
Pharmacies in England started giving vaccines on Thursday

The vaccine rollout is to be stepped up to offer 500,000 jabs a day, according to the i newspaper. The paper says confidential government figures show jabs are to be doubled next week.

The Times suggests all over-50s could be vaccinated by the end of March. A senior Whitehall source told the paper they were increasingly confident that 32 million people could get their first dose by mid to late March.

The Financial Times reports that health and technology groups are working to create an international digital vaccination passport.

The FT says Microsoft, Oracle and the US healthcare Mayo Clinic group are seeking to create a digital card.

The Guardian looks at EU plans for a vaccine passport. They are being pushed by the Greek prime minister who insists they would not be a prerequisite for travel.

The Times notes that British immunisation certificates would not be automatically accepted by the EU and suggests this could delay Britons' holiday plans.

Meanwhile, the Guardian reports that the medicines regulator has not approved the daily use of testing in schools.

The agency is said to be concerned that negative results could give people false reassurance. The MHRA told the BBC that it gave the necessary authorisation to NHS Test and Trace for the use of lateral flow tests.

Travel ban

There is much concern about what the Daily Mail dubs the "latest border shambles".

The Mail says "abysmally" it has taken five days to impose a travel ban on arrivals from South America.

The Sun asks: "Why was the government so slow?"

The Times criticises the decision to delay bringing in the requirement for pre-flight negative Covid-19 tests, pointing out that "pandemics do not wait for travellers to get their papers in order".

And the Daily Mirror calls it a "farce" saying it's "incomprehensible" that it's taken nearly 300 days "to plug this gap in our defences".

According to the Times, France is demanding lorry drivers take tests which take 72 hours to process.

Ministers fear this could result in gridlock at the border - and the i suggests French and German companies are turning down deliveries to the UK, because of the red tape.

The Sun warns that although "Boris Johnson calls these teething troubles.. he cannot keep that up for ever".

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
The UK's new travel ban - which also applies to Portugal and Cape Verde - came into force on Friday

Both the Financial Times and Telegraph report on an estimate by economists that up to 1.3 million immigrants may have left the UK since the start of the pandemic.

The Economic Statistics Centre of Excellence suggests there was an exodus of non-UK workers because of job losses in sectors such as hospitality.

The FT says London's population may have dropped by 8% and the fall across the UK could be the largest since World War Two.

The Telegraph notes it might explain why official unemployment remains so low.

The i newspaper and the Times both report on the pressure the Chancellor faces from Conservative MPs in so-called Red Wall seats to support businesses and families.

Writing in the i, Stephen Bush urges Rishi Sunak in the i not to be "parsimonious", saying he "risks doing more damage" by not supporting firms, who may not make it, than killing them off during lockdown.

The Sun makes the case for the Chancellor not to end the stamp duty holiday, insisting the tax is "destructive, gratuitous and unpopular".

Meanwhile, the Mail reports on what it labels the "Tory coup that lasted two hours".

The Daily Telegraph explains that the senior Conservative, Steve Baker, warned that Boris Johnson's leadership would be "on the table" unless he set out an exit strategy from lockdown. But shortly after her offered the prime minister his full support in a tweet.

The Financial Times says the government has plans to tear up EU workers rights including the 48-hour week.

The FT warns that Brussels could retaliate with tariffs if it can demonstrate this affects the level playing field. Downing Street has strongly denied the plans to the BBC.

The Telegraph explains how privacy rules have stymied efforts by the authorities of one German state to offer vaccinations to their oldest residents first.

Officials in Lower Saxony who want to send letters to those over 80 have to guess people's ages by deciding if their names sound old-fashioned.

But the Telegraph points out this could mean a 25-year-old with a name like Wolfgang might get notified before an 85-year-old called Michael.

And if you think honey used to taste differently from how it does now, according to the Telegraph, you would be right.

Scientists have compared recent pollen samples with those collected nearly 60 years ago.

It appears bees used to feast more on clover and hawthorn, but now dine out more on brambles and oilseed rape which has changed the flavour of their honey.