Drakeford pays tribute to Covid-19 response in New Year’s Day message

Claire Hayhurst, PA
·2-min read

The First Minister of Wales has paid tribute to the country’s response to the coronavirus pandemic in his New Year’s Day message.

Mark Drakeford described the “huge collective effort” seen in Wales through 2020, with families and neighbours supporting each other and volunteers helping those who were shielding and vulnerable.

He said frontline workers, from NHS staff to shopworkers, had made the country proud.

In a video message released on Thursday, Mr Drakeford said 2020 had been “one of the most difficult years” faced due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“The world has not seen a public health emergency of this sort for more than 100 years,” Mr Drakeford said.

“It has tested our strength, our resilience and our determination. Tens of thousands of people have experienced the virus first-hand. All our lives have been turned upside down.”

Mr Drakeford said many families had lost loved ones to the “cruel virus” which continues to “grip communities across Wales”.

Figures released by Public Health Wales on Thursday reported a total of 148,537 cases of Covid-19 and 3,494 deaths of people with coronavirus in the country since the beginning of the pandemic.

The First Minister paused to reflect on the “huge collective effort” seen in Wales throughout the year.

“Families and neighbours have supported each other,” he said.

“A small army of volunteers has shopped, run errands and picked up medicines for people who were shielding and vulnerable.

“And frontline workers – from shopworkers to our NHS and carers – have rightly made us proud of their commitment to keep everyone as safe as possible.”

He said the new year came with the “promise of a different approach” to Covid-19, due to two vaccines being approved for use.

“In a bleak year, there were bright moments of hope – and none brighter than the arrival of the vaccine in the last weeks of the year,” Mr Drakeford said.

“In the first weeks of the new year, the first people to receive the vaccine will complete their two-dose course.

“And more clinics will open as the second vaccine has now been approved, speeding up the rollout of protection.”

“There will be more challenges in 2021 and the virus will have more surprises for us but we will be with you every step of the way.”