What the papers say – September 18

‘Chaos and inefficiency’ in coronavirus testing and optimism from Brussels over trade are on the front pages on Friday.

The Government’s test and trace system is condemned in The Guardian as “barely functional” as The Independent cites the programme’s director as admitting demand for tests is three to four times the number available.

A scientist who has toured the facilities tells The Times there is “chaos and inefficiency” in testing laboratories.

The Daily Telegraph says hospitals have been instructed to clear beds ahead of a coronavirus spike expected in two weeks, while Metro reports cases have increased 75% in just seven days.

There are now 10 million people living in local lockdowns after the North East became the latest area to be hit with restrictions, according to the Daily Mirror.

The Daily Star says it is a “mystery” that “Boris Johnson and his pals” did not see the current crisis coming.

Meanwhile, scientists in the Daily Express say a shoebox-sized virus test kit capable of delivering a result in just 90 minutes could make a “huge difference” ahead of winter.

The Government is preparing to sidestep EU licensing laws and use emergency powers to vaccinate against the virus, the i reports.

The Health Secretary reveals in the Daily Mail that mistakes on maternity wards are costing the NHS almost £1 billion in lawsuits a year.

Shifting to the continent, where the Financial Times reports the European Commissioner has said she remains convinced Brussels can still secure a trade deal with the UK despite the “distraction” of Mr Johnson’s move to breach the Brexit withdrawal treaty.