WATCH: Drakeford welcomes vaccine roll-out as “glimmer of light”

Elliot Chappell

Mark Drakeford has welcomed the administration of the first coronavirus vaccinations as a “glimmer of light at the end of what is still a long and quite dark tunnel” in the fight against the global pandemic.

Commenting on the roll-out of the vaccine in a Sky News interview this morning, the Welsh First Minister praised those working to deliver the jabs but warned that they are “not a substitute” for all the Covid restrictions in place.

Drakeford told viewers: “In Wales, we’ve been preparing for this day since May of this year – enormous effort by workers right across Wales, complex supply chains, skilled people at the delivery end.

“And a day for me to say thank you to all of them for the enormous efforts they’ve made and a glimmer of light at the end of what is still a long and quite dark tunnel.”

There are currently more than 1,800 people in Welsh hospitals with confirmed or suspected coronavirus. This is the highest number recorded in the devolved nation and 400 more than the peak in the first wave of the virus in April.

The Welsh government announced additional Covid restrictions at the end of last month, with all cafes, pubs, bars and restaurants in Wales required to close their doors at 6pm and banned from selling alcohol at any time.

Welsh health minister Vaughan Gething has described the situation as “incredibly serious” and has accepted that more restrictions to suppress the spread of the virus might be needed, possibly in the period leading up to Christmas.

On the cases in Wales, Drakeford said: “We face a very difficult position here in Wales. It’s why we had to take the actions that we did last week in placing restrictions on our hospitality industry.

“The number are far too high, we have to do things now to deal with those. Vaccination will come to our aid in the New Year starting from today, but it is not a substitute for all the things that everybody in Wales and indeed across the UK needs to do.

“We’re still in the grip of a global pandemic… The vaccine offers us all hope for a different 2021 but the path from here to there is still a difficult one in which everybody needs to play their part.”

On the practicalities of distributing the vaccine, he said: “The rollout is our responsibility here in Wales. We’ve had help from the army particularly with logistics and planning and it has genuinely been a four nation effort.

“Our health minister meeting with Robin Swan and others very regularly on a weekly basis right through November, meeting again today I think. And focusing on the practicalities of delivering the vaccine.

“So, in that sense, its a common effort facing the common problem that is here in all parts of the UK.”

UK Labour leader Keir Starmer hailed today as “momentous”. Taking to social media earlier today, he tweeted: “There is light at the end of the tunnel. It is crucial we all continue to stay safe by following public health advice.”

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