Newspaper headlines: Britons in virus airlift and HS2 cost fury


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“Airlift to save Britons trapped by virus” is the Mail on Sunday’s dramatic take on government plans to evacuate more than 200 Britons from Wuhan, the Chinese city where the deadly new coronavirus was first seen. After initially saying it would leave Britons in Wuhan in a bid to contain the virus, the government has performed a U-turn, the paper says, after concluding keeping their citizens there could be a “death sentence”.

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Britons trapped at the centre of the coronavirus outbreak have accused the Foreign Office of abandoning them after the US and France began efforts to rescue their own citizens, the Sunday Telegraph reports. But the paper leads on explosive whistleblower claims that the government-owned firm behind HS2 “has been ‘revising’ agreements with firms carrying out the main construction works so that future cost increases will be borne by the company, funded by taxpayer’s money, rather than private contractors”

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Meanwhile, the Sunday Times’ take on coronavirus is that NHS staff have been issued with an 11-page instruction manual on handling bodies and told victims may pose a “minor risk” even after they die. However the paper’s splash claims Boris Johnson’s Brexit day celebrations could be overshadowed by a “diplomatic war” with US President Donald Trump over the PM’s plans to give Chinese telecoms firm Huawei access to the Britain’s 5G network.

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Disquiet over HS2 also leads the Observer’s front page, with the paper reporting warnings that scrapping the high-speed rail line would cost at least £12bn in write-offs and compensation, and plunge major construction companies into dire financial straits.

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The Sunday Mirror carries an exclusive interview with an alleged victim of Reynhard Sinaga, the most prolific rapist in British legal history. The teenage student said he feared he had killed Sinaga after repeatedly hitting him when he awoke to find him on top of him. The student, who says he was drugged, later called Manchester police and ended “Sinaga’s reign of depravity”.

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“Boris plan for Brexit boom” is the headline of the Sunday Express’s front page story – and it has nothing to do with Big Ben this time. The paper reports Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s pledge that Britain will become a “trailblazer” of global trade after the country leaves the EU on Friday.

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“Snared” is the headline of the Sunday People’s special investigation, which features a distressing image of a dolphin caught in a poacher’s net. The paper says these dolphins are “brutally” captured and sold to tourist parks.

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And the Daily Star on Sunday claims that EastEnders viewers will not be seeing Jessie Wallace on screen as Kat Slater for a couple of months after the actress was temporarily written out following “crisis talks” with bosses about an alleged “incident” on set. A spokeswoman for EastEnders told the paper it did not comment on artists’ contracts, while Wallace’s agent also declined to comment.

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