Covid-19: GP appointments, and the last chance to find virus origins

- BBC News

Covid-19: GP appointments, and the last chance to find virus origins

Here are five things you need to know about the coronavirus pandemic this Thursday morning. Well have another update for you this evening.

In a bid to increase face-to-face GP appointments, the governments unveiling a £250m winter rescue package. In the first full month since restrictions were lifted only 58% of patients were seen in person - nowhere near the pre-pandemic levels of 80%. To change this, the funding should allow surgeries to recruit extra locum staff as well as physios and podiatrists. And to help more same-day appointments there are plans to relax social distancing rules so more people can be seen at practice sites.

More than a year-and-a-half since Covid-19 was detected in the Chinese city of Wuhan, questions remain over its origins. The World Health Organization is creating a new group - the Scientific Advisory Group on the Origins of Novel Pathogens (Sago) - to look into it and says it might be the last chance to find out how it emerged. Its previous investigation was hampered by a lack of data and transparency from China and more work was needed to confirm the virus had probably come from bats.

Lateral flow tests were criticised for being less accurate than lab-analysed PCR tests when they were introduced but a studys found they are very good at detecting Covid-19. University College London researchers say positive results should be trusted and people who get one should "stay at home", says Prof Irene Petersen, lead author of the study.

Up to 30 people from any number of households can meet indoors at other homes and audiences in indoor venues can stand during performances as part the latest easing of restrictions in Northern Ireland. Its taken a "determined and combined effort across society to get us here", says First Minister Paul Givan.

Approval of Covid booster vaccines meant tens of millions of US residents became eligible for a third jab. But people across the country are confused about boosters, who needs them and how they help. "Of course, Im confused," says one person, "on one day the White House said that theyd give boosters to everyone. It turns out only some people can get them. I still dont know who decides." Others have reported being unclear about the terms "booster" and "third jab" and whether or not they mean the same thing. Whats going on? Weve taken a look.

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So far more than two million people have had their Covid booster jabs in England but they will only be offered to certain groups of people - find out if youre in one of them.

Find further information, advice and guides on our coronavirus page.

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