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‘The path out of the pandemic lies in front’, says First Minister

THE First Minister of Wales Mark Drakeford MS dared to signal that the sacrifices being made by the people of Wales were beginning to pay off with a possible path out of the pandemic in sight.

Speaking at his press briefing the First Minister began with his an update on the numbers of people who had received vaccination. He said that to date 126,000 had received their first dose with an average of 10,000 people a day being vaccinated.

Mr Drakeford said that Wales had its first local pharmacy vaccinating in North Wales with the possibility of dentists and optometrists joining the small army involved in vaccinating.

The First Minister said that with a huge effort 28 mass vaccination centres are now open with 45 planned. He said that supply of the vaccine should increase in the next week and thanked the NHS for their round-the-clock work.

For the first time in a while Mr Drakeford said that there were encouraging signs of stabilisation in Wales with cases dropping to 365 per 100,000 in the population.

Although there were still concerns in areas like Wrexham and Flintshire with the new strain more dominant in North Wales, the First Minister said that there were ‘signs that the hard work and sacrifices were paying off’.

Mr Drakeford did caution that the NHS was still ‘under immense pressure’ with critical care beds across Wales filling up.

The First Minister paused to remember the people who have died as a result of Covid-19 and said that to date it was over 5,000 people in Wales. “They had friends, family and life to live still in front of them,” he said.

Mr Drakeford focussed on the Welsh Government’s efforts to make supermarkets and workplaces safe and to restore confidence in those who had been contacting him claiming that they had fears and over the safety of some workplaces.

The First Minister said that the Welsh Government will make it a legal requirement for businesses with 5 or more employees to carry out a risk assessment, adding that it would include areas for ventilation, signs, PPE, face coverings and hand sanitising facilities.

The First Minister also spoke about the need to double efforts on enforcement to ensure ‘the reckless few did not undermine the work and efforts of the hard working majority’.

Scams and fraudsters targeting older, vulnerable people were also on the First Minister’s list for discussion. ‘Tell someone you trust’ and it is ‘your choice to let someone into your home,’ he cautioned. He also spoke of the sharp contrast in fortunes of Northern Ireland where he said they had the lowest rate of cases in Europe some time ago but now have the highest rate of cases in the World.

The First Minister concluded by saying; “There are signs of improvement across Wales. Carry on and follow the rules. The path out lies in front if everyone treads that path.”

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