First Minister Mark Drakeford has paid tribute to people in Wales for uniting “in the darkest of times” as the country marked one year since the start of the first UK lockdown.
The Welsh Labour leader said while the anniversary was a chance to focus on the huge loss of life, it could be marked with “a sense of hope” because of the country’s vaccination programme and plans to ease restrictions.
On Tuesday, Mr Drakeford took part in a minute’s silence with members of his cabinet and chief executive of NHS Wales Dr Andrew Goodall to reflect on those who have lost their lives during the pandemic.
Speaking on the steps of the Welsh Government’s Cathays Park building in Cardiff following the minute’s silence, he said: “A year ago, all four countries in the United Kingdom entered lockdown together.
“So much of our focus today is rightly on the huge loss of life the pandemic has caused.
“Our thoughts are with all the families who are mourning the loss of a loved one – just as our thoughts have been with all the people whose lives lie behind the numbers reported every day.
“They will be remembered in the hearts and minds of all those who knew and loved them.”
Mr Drakeford also spoke of hearing “inspiring tales of resilience, bravery and determination from every part of Wales”, including “everyday heroes” such as bus drivers, shop workers, intensive care nurses and teachers.
Mr Drakeford said: “In the darkest of times, we have come together as a country.
“And because of that, today we mark this anniversary with a sense of hope.
“Our fantastic vaccine programme is protecting thousands of people every day and we’re relaxing the restrictions we have lived with for so long.
“As the first shoots of spring appear, we can all have real hope that this year can be so much better than the last.”