‘War on Virus’ with Crisis Laws and ‘Battle’ plan

The coronavirus outbreak is the top story leading all of Saturday’s newspaper front pages.

Under the headline “outbreak could leave one out of 10 in hospital“, the Daily Telegraph suggests health officials may cancel surgical operations as part of their crisis response, if there is a surge in coronavirus cases.

It says officials fear that 70% of individuals in the UK could get tainted, with around 15% of them winding up in hospital.

But despite these concerns, its leader argues that “controlling panic is almost as important as battling the disease”.

The Daily Mirror says the time span taken by Boris Johnson to meet the crisis council Cobra smacks of “unacceptable complacency”.

The Sun believes “the coronavirus has not been Boris Johnson’s finest hour… however”.

But the Daily Express is increasingly supportive of the leader, saying he “is on the whole correct to make dealing with the coronavirus his top need”, as he revealed on Friday.

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Market chaos

Many of the newspapers focus on what the Daily Telegraph’s first page describes as “stock market chaos” – the plummeting value of shares worldwide, in response to the coronavirus.

The I newspaper’s headline is “virus shock to global economy” and the paper quotes one broker as saying “the panic mode is full on”.

Another explains that “the fear of the unknown is causing traders to lose their nerve and just cut and run”.

But the Daily Express attempts to reassure those spooked by nose-jumping share prices.

“The best thing investors can do,” it suggests, “is to sit tight.”

It points out that regularly when markets fall sharply, they bounce back quickly – which means those who panic and sell will lose out.

It concludes that individuals with investments in stocks should “perhaps stop looking at your portfolio for some time”.

The Times expresses disappointment that the previous Chancellor Sajid Javid didn’t find a workable pace the paper describes as his “radical budget plans”.

Mr Javid, who stepped down earlier this month during a cabinet reshuffle, has given a meeting to the paper in which he says he had planned to cut 2p from the basic rate of personal tax.

He was apparently also keen to reduce stamp duty and offer alleviation for capital investment.

Under the headline “right ideas”, the paper argues that “the administration needs to think strongly on the off chance that it is to achieve the radical transformation of Britain it has promised”.

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‘Closer to Glastonbury’

Under the headline “Greta’s green disciples”, the Daily Mail considers Friday’s appearance in Bristol by the climate activist Greta Thunberg.

There is a picture – spread across two pages – of the huge group that gathered, with the small figure of the Swedish campaigner, clad in a yellow raincoat, just barely visible.

“Soaked, woke and angry though they may have been,” the report begins, “the younger residents of Bristol were in carnival state of mind”.

The paper says the atmosphere was “closer to Glastonbury-meets-royal-visit than a normal demonstration”.

The Sun picks up on a line from Ms Thunberg’s speech, with the headline “the world is ablaze”.

But it at that point subverts her message by alluding to the wet weather: “er, actually Greta, it’s chucking it down”.

The Guardian spoke to several of those who’d turned up to see her. One 15-year-old tells the paper: “We want to help make a change. Greta’s really brave and inspirational”.

The Telegraph quotes a student saying: “She’s like Gandhi.”

Mantel v influencer

The Guardian is angry about the humanitarian crisis in northern Syria – caused by the administration offensive, backed by Russia, against rebels in the city of Idlib.

It suggests the international community has been incited to call for a conclusion to hostilities not just because of the horrors caused by the battling – but also in response to Turkey’s announcement that it will never again forestall Syrian refugees traveling to Europe.

“What it takes to puncture detachment,” its leader says, “is not the suffering of ordinary men, ladies and youngsters – but the prospect that they may escape it by going to our shores”.

 Article Origin: 29 February 2020  BBC News

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