Are vaccines being administered in Wales?
336,071 people have been administered with the first dose of the vaccine in Wales, as of January 27, according to the Government.
As of Jan 16, 3,215 per 100,000 people had received their vaccination in Wales, compared to 3,514 in Scotland, 4,005 in England and 4,828 in Northern Ireland. More vaccine administration centres will be opening up in the coming weeks, showing that progress is being made in controlling the virus.
Though, despite being statistically behind the other home nations in delivering the vaccine, Mr Drakeford announced: “we’re on track to vaccinate the top four priority groups by the middle of February, alongside the other UK nations.”
Mr Drakeford stated in a press conference that the rollout of both the Pfizer and Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine “offers us a chance of a different and better future”, confirming that all frontline ambulance staff will have had their first dose of the vaccine by next week and that the vaccine will be extended to staff working in special schools, and to staff in schools and colleges who are at risk.
Then, on Jan 18, the Welsh government was further criticised for their “truly bewildering” policy of delaying the coronavirus vaccine rollout, after Mr Drakeford had claimed there limited supplies of the Pfizer jab.
However, the First Minister told Sky News on Jan 18 that Wales will be “getting more supplies of vaccine this week, particularly the Oxford vaccine.”
Following this criticism, the health minister, Vaughan Gething, shared on Jan 20 that over 10,000 people are receiving their first dose every day in Wales. This is the same as seven people being vaccinated every minute. Mr Gething also shared over five per-cent of Wales has now been vaccinated.
The First Minister has confirmed that the Welsh Government has missed its target to vaccinate 70% of over-80s by the Jan 25.
Mr Drakeford told the Welsh Parliament on Jan 26, that the aim was affected by adverse weather, with a “large number” of over-80s not feeling it was safe for them to leave their homes in the snow and ice.
He added: “All of those people will have been offered another opportunity for vaccination by the end of Wednesday of this week [Jan 27], so we will very rapidly make up for that number.”
Are schools closed?
Schools and colleges in Wales are closed and could remain so until February half term.
Children in Wales will “remain on remote learning until Jan 29 at the earliest,” Mark Drakeford told BBC Breakfast, in an attempt to control the virus and enforce the ‘Stay at Home’ message.
The Government had previously arranged for schools to have flexibility over the first two weeks of the spring term, allowing them to choose when students would return to in-person learning.
However, due to the high numbers of seriously ill people in hospitals in Wales, the Government closed all schools before the return of students in early January.
Schools are only open for vulnerable students and children of critical workers.
Universities will continue to offer both in person and online classes, but students must stay home in their university accommodation under the new rules – except for limited purposes such as exercise, and must work from home wherever possible.
What about exams?
Wales’ GCSE, AS and A-level exams due to take place in summer 2021 have been cancelled, Education Minister Kirsty Williams announced on Nov 10.
Mrs Williams said it was impossible to guarantee a level playing field because of the impact of coronavirus, so grades will be based on externally set classroom assessments under teacher supervision.
Can I travel to Wales after lockdown?
England is currently in a national lockdown, meaning incoming and outgoing travel to other countries is banned until mid-February.
You may only leave your local area for a legally permitted reason, such as for work.
Scotland has also brought in a “stay at home” order and closed it’s borders, meaning travel is off the cards between all the devolved nations.
Mr Drakeford said: “Coronavirus doesn’t respect borders – we all have a part to play in keeping Wales and the UK safe. Please think carefully about where you are going and what you are doing. This virus thrives wherever we come together with others.”