UK death toll leaps 260 in day to ex­ceed 1,000 Virus-hit Boris warns it’ll get worse be­fore it gets bet­ter PM’s al­lies: There will be ‘reck­on­ing’ with Bei­jing over Covid-19

The Mail on Sunday - - Front Page - By Harry Cole and Glen Owen

BORIS JOHN­SON’S al­lies turned on China over the coro­n­avirus cri­sis yes­ter­day, as Bri­tain’s death toll from the epi­demic reached four fig­ures.

Min­is­ters and se­nior Down­ing Street of­fi­cials said the Com­mu­nist state now faces a ‘reck­on­ing’ over its han­dling of the out­break and risks be­com­ing a ‘pariah state’.

They are fu­ri­ous over China’s cam­paign of mis­in­for­ma­tion, at­tempts to ex­ploit the pan­demic for eco­nomic gain and atro­cious an­i­mal rights record.

The Prime Min­is­ter, who now faces Cabi­net calls to re­verse his de­ci­sion to let con­tro­ver­sial Chi­nese firm Huawei build large parts of Bri­tain’s new 5G tele­coms net­work, to­day warns that the epi­demic is likely to worsen in the com­ing weeks – but that he ex­pects the Bri­tish ‘spirit’ to over­come the cri­sis.

In a let­ter to 30 mil­lion house­holds, Mr John­son – who was yes­ter­day work­ing in self-iso­la­tion in Down­ing Street af­ter test­ing pos­i­tive for the virus – says: ‘Things will get worse be­fore they get bet­ter.’ In an­other dra­matic day: The UK death toll soared to 1,019 – up 260

in 24 hours, in­clud­ing the first sur­geon to die from Covid-19;

NHS med­i­cal chief Stephen Powis said ‘ev­ery one of us has a part to play’ if deaths were to be kept be­low 20,000;

As No 10 re­leased pic­tures of Mr John­son at work, a poll found Chan­cel­lor Rishi Su­nak is the vot­ers’ favourite to be in­terim Prime Min­is­ter if Mr John­son can­not per­form his du­ties;

Track­ing by this news­pa­per sug­gested the virus sweep­ing White­hall may have orig­i­nated with the EU’s chief Brexit ne­go­tia­tor Michel Barnier;

The first im­ages emerged from inside Lon­don’s ExCel Cen­tre as it is be­ing trans­formed into a 4,000-bed makeshift hospi­tal;

Deaths across Europe ex­ceeded 20,000, with Italy suf­fer­ing 10,023 fa­tal­i­ties and Spain see­ing its big­gest daily rise of 889 to reach 5,690; Global in­fec­tions hit 600,000; Min­is­ters were con­sid­er­ing us­ing the RAF to air­lift Bri­tons stranded abroad af­ter Op­po­si­tion pres­sure;

A front line NHS doc­tor gave a har­row­ing ac­count to this news­pa­per about how medics are hav­ing to ‘play God’ due to equip­ment short­ages;

Amid fear of more do­mes­tic abuse cases, Home Sec­re­tary Priti Pa­tel warned cul­prits they would be ‘brought to jus­tice’;

Po­lice risked fresh claims of snoop­ing by track­ing mo­torists’ cars to check how far they have trav­elled;

Panic buy­ers pro­voked anger by throw­ing away ex­cess food – some of it un­opened;

US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump sug­gested he may try to put New York in quar­an­tine;

Wuhan, the Chi­nese epi­cen­tre of the cri­sis, par­tially re­opened af­ter more than two months in iso­la­tion;

The lat­est Bri­tish vic­tims of the epi­demic to be named in­clude the first sur­geon to die from the virus. Trans­plant con­sul­tant Dr Adil El Ta­yar, 63, who died on Wed­nes­day, is thought to have be­come in­fected while was work­ing at a hospi­tal in the Mid­lands.

His cousin, the BBC pre­sen­ter Zeinab Badawi, said: ‘Adil was a stoic and an op­ti­mist and thought he would soon re­cover. This virus is un­for­giv­ing, in­dis­crim­i­nate and it can be bru­tal.’

Azam Khan, 95, a four-time Bri­tish squash cham­pion, was also named among the lat­est vic­tims, along­side am­a­teur DJ Danny Sharma, 38, from Lon­don, re­tired tele­coms en­gi­neer

Pat Bew­ley, 79, from Suf­folk, and taxi driver Spencer Kurash, 57, from Chig­well, Es­sex.

In his let­ter, which will land on door­mats from Tues­day, Mr John­son says he un­der­stands the dis­rup­tion caused by the lock­down, but de­scribes it as ‘ab­so­lutely nec­es­sary’, adding: ‘The more we all fol­low the rules, the fewer lives will be lost.’ And he says that it is with ‘great Bri­tish spirit that we will beat coro­n­avirus’.

Mean­while, Busi­ness Sec­re­tary Alok Sharma an­nounced yes­ter­day that in­sol­vency rules would be changed to al­low firms greater flex­i­bil­ity as they dealt with the cri­sis.

He also un­veiled mea­sures to boost the sup­ply of per­sonal pro­tec­tive equip­ment, such as face masks and aprons, to front line NHS staff, and to al­low new hand sani­tis­ers to be avail­able ‘in a mat­ter of days’.

Fol­low­ing dis­puted re­ports that the death toll might be lower than feared, NHS med­i­cal di­rec­tor Stephen Powis urged peo­ple to stay locked down to de­feat the virus, adding ‘now is not the time to be com­pla­cent... I can­not em­pha­sise enough to ev­ery­body to­day – you have the chance to save a life.’

As the fight against coro­n­avirus con­tin­ued, there was grow­ing re­sent­ment to­wards the Chi­nese in No 10.

One se­nior Govern­ment source said: ‘ Of course, the only pri­or­ity now is to deal with the cri­sis, but ev­ery­body knows that there has to be a reck­on­ing when all this is over.’

Writ­ing for The Mail on Sun­day, for­mer Tory Party leader Iain Dun­can Smith says: ‘For too long, na­tions have lamely kow-towed to China in the des­per­ate hope of win­ing trade deals. But once we get clear of this ter­ri­ble pan­demic, it is im­per­a­tive that we all re­think that re­la­tion­ship and put it on a much more bal­anced and hon­est ba­sis.’

WORRY: Our health ex­pert with sons Jack, left, and Dan – who both have fevers – and wife Clare

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