image captionThe Daily Mail carries a note of optimism on its front page, reporting that the R rate – which is the average number of people that one infected person passes the virus onto – is now below one in the majority of the country, according to scientists from the University of Cambridge. The paper says the figures – which are separate to the government’s estimate of the R rate – are “the strongest evidence yet that lockdown is working”.
image captionThe Daily Express also reports on the falling infection rate, saying that “hopes are rising Britain is on the way to winning the fight against Covid-19”. But the paper adds it is “critical” that people “stay vigilant”.
image captionThe Guardian reports that the UK’s medicine’s regulator has refused to formally approve the daily testing of school pupils with rapid lateral flow tests. According to the paper, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency told the government the tests give people false reassurance if they test negative. Mass testing with lateral flow tests is already in place in some secondary schools and was due to be expanded next week for children who are in school, the paper adds.
image captionThe Metro leads with the situation in hospitals, saying emergency patients are being wheeled back to ambulances because there are too few beds. Wards are overflowing with a record number of Covid patients and “significant” harm is being caused to other seriously ill people, it says. The paper quotes one doctor as saying one very ill patient had an X-ray in a hospital before being taken back to the ambulance as there was no space.
image captionThe Daily Telegraph reports the number of cases in care homes have more than trebled in a month. It says infection levels in care homes are now similar to the peak of the first wave. The government has promised to vaccinate all care home residents by the end of January, but sources have told the paper the rollout in care homes is taking longer than anticipated.
image captionThe vaccine rollout makes the front of the i newspaper. It says plans published by the Scottish government suggest the UK will receive enough doses to carry out 500,000 jabs a day from next week. Scotland has since withdrawn the figures, after a row with Westminster – with the UK government saying it didn’t want to share details of how many doses it was receiving because “if other countries see” then “they are likely to put pressure on the drug firms”.
image captionThe Daily Mirror also leads on vaccines, but focuses on the news that high street pharmacies have started giving out vaccinations. On Thursday six chemists across England began jabs and 200 more will begin soon, the paper says. Nearly three million people have now had a jab, it adds.
image captionA government source has told the Times that they are increasingly confident that all over-50s could be vaccinated by the end of March. But the paper’s top story is on a technology blunder that has seen more than 150,000 fingerprint, DNA and arrest history records accidentally deleted from police databases. The data was lost from the Police National Computer, which the paper says is one of the most important police databases as it contains vast amounts of intelligence and allows real-time checks on people and vehicles.
image captionThe Sun has an exclusive interview with Katie Price, who says she has decided to put her son Harvey into care. The former model and reality TV star tells the paper: “It kills me to think I won’t see him every day but this is the best thing for Harvey.” The Sun adds that 18-year-old Harvey, who has disabilities, will live in a residential college.
image captionA man who believes he accidentally threw away a laptop hard drive containing £230m of Bitcoins is the focus for the Daily Star. The man, from Newport in south Wales, wants his local council to let him search for it in landfill, and has offered more than £50m to the council. The Star calls him a “wally”, but asks readers to “spare a thought” for him and that “we all have bad days”.
image captionThe Financial Times reports that worker protections brought in under EU law – such as the 48-hour limit on the working week – could be scrapped. The paper says the government’s business department is drawing up plans for a reform of labour markets – although it has not yet been agreed by ministers. The proposed shake-up would please many Tory MPs but is likely to anger trade union leaders, the FT adds.