NI newspapers: Coronavirus, Flybe and a romantic royal walk

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Man in protective suitImage source, Anadolu Agency
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The spread of coronavirus across the UK dominates the headlines on Thursday

With news of the collapse of UK airline Flybe coming too late for many newspapers, the focus is on the spread of coronavirus, which saw a dramatic spike in cases across the UK on Wednesday.

"NI medics face tough decisions", reads the headline in the Belfast Telegraph.

It suggests hospitals across Northern Ireland may be forced to ration intensive care beds in the event of a surge in infections.

The medical director of the Northern Trust was asked if there will be enough beds to cope with a surge.

Dr Seamus O'Reilly replied: "We can't give that reassurance."

Panic buying

It also reflects on the panic buying of sanitising products - reporter Mark Bain spent five fruitless hours searching Belfast for anti-bacterial hand gel.

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A Belfast Telegraph reporter spent five hours searching for hand sanitising products in Belfast

"Not a single pharmacy had any in stock, with one pharmacist saying she's never seen demand like it in 35 years," he wrote.

The suggestion from pharmacists was that panic buying is leading to severe shortages and suppliers charging more to re-stock.

Queen's student

The Irish News reports that there are six more coronavirus cases across Ireland.

"Two of the cases were detected in the north, one of them a postgraduate student at Queen's University, who had recently travelled from northern Italy," it writes.

It quotes Stormont Health Minister Robin Swann, who said steps are being taken to trace those who may have been in contact with the student since he or she returned from Italy to Belfast last week.

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Robin Swann said steps are being taken to trace those who may have been in contact with the student

It also reports that 50 suspected coronavirus cases have been tested at a drive-through facility at Antrim Area Hospital.

The facility, outside the A&E department, has been testing those who have been referred by a GP for three weeks.

Airline collapses

The Mirror focuses on the virus' impact on the airline Flybe, which has gone into administration, putting 2,000 jobs at risk after a bid for fresh financial support failed, although at the time of going to press, it had not yet collapsed.

Image source, Reuters

The Mirror reported that BBC presenter Holly Hamilton was among hundreds of passengers who were feared to be grounded on Wednesday night.

However, she eventually made it to Belfast and in a tweet posted from the plane, the County Down woman wrote: "Thank you so much to the amazing pilot and crew that got us here! A lot of very grateful passengers on board what looks like the last ever Flybe flight. Thanks Peter, Carol & Ingrid."

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites.View original tweet on Twitter

The News Letter also leads with the coronavirus story and in its Morning View editorial, it urges the public to remain calm in the face of the crisis.

"The evidence so far is that the government has handled this crisis well," it writes.

"Until now, the number of infected people in the UK has been relatively slow to climb and, very encouragingly, a number of those affected by the virus have already made full recoveries."

Cliff top stroll

The paper also reports on the second day of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge's trip to Ireland.

Image source, BRIAN LAWLESS
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The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge walk along Howth Cliff, near Howth, north of Dublin

"Couple escape the crowds for romantic, scenic cliff top stroll," reads the headline.

It writes that the couple walked hand-in-hand along a path, "admiring the views of Howth Cliff, a popular tourist spot north of Dublin".

Waiting at the top was the Irish Environment Minister Richard Bruton, who is quoted as saying: "They remarked on how you couldn't come to Ireland and not see the coastline, so they got their wish."