Are vaccines being administered in Wales?
Wales has vaccinated more of its population that the rest of the UK in the past week, the country’s Health Minister has said.
Public Health Wales figures on Feb 1 showed 462,497 first doses of the Covid-19 vaccine have now been given out, an increase of 22,857 from the previous day, while the number of second doses rose by 94 to 1,160.
Vaughan Gething said the latest vaccination figures demonstrated the “rapid progress” of the Welsh rollout, with 14.7 per cent of Wales’ 3.1 million population having received a first dose.
In total, 78.9 per cent of those over 80 have received their first dose of the vaccine, along with 76.9 per cent of care home residents and 80 per cent of care home staff.
A total of 51.1 per cent of those aged between 75 and 79 have received a first dose, along with 21.5 per cent of people aged between 70 and 74.
Mr Gething said Wales was “on course” to meet Cardiff Bay’s target of offering vaccines to the top four priority groups in Wales by the middle of February, with more clinics offering Covid jabs from this week and the military loaning an additional 90 personnel to help staff mass vaccination centres.
“In the last week we vaccinated more people, as a percentage of our population, than any of the other UK nations,” he said.
Are schools closed?
Schools and colleges in Wales are closed and will remain so until February half term at least.
But the youngest pupils could return after the school holidays if infections continue to drop, according to the First Minister.
Mark Drakeford told a press conference in Cardiff on Jan 29 that he was “very keen to give two clear weeks’ notice” about plans for children to return to school.
Mr Drakeford said he understands the “anxieties” that school staff have about students returning to face-to-face teaching in Wales.
“We will do everything we can in the week ahead to work with the teacher unions and other staff who work in schools to put whatever we can in place to make sure that that workplace is as safe as it can be,” Mr Drakeford said.
“It’s partly why we talked today about starting with the very youngest children – children who are the least likely to suffer from coronavirus or to spread it to other people.
“We have to work together on this agenda because we have a common aim of trying to repair the damage that has been done to the education of our young people during the 12 months that have just gone by.”
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 to prevent further cases of the variants entering the country.
Welsh Health Minister Vaughan Gething said on Feb 3 that 13 cases of the South African variant had been identified in Wales, an increase of 3 from the previous week.
Under the current lockdown restrictions 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.”