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  1. Wales striking a balance between Covid harms

    Asked whether there will come a time in the near future in Wales where they'll have to balance the risk of what's becoming a milder illness with the pressures on public services and the economy in Wales from keeping tighter restrictions.

    "That is exactly the balance I think we try and strike all the time, every time we make a set of decisions by trying to weigh up the different harms that come from coronavirus," he said.

  2. Is the Covid mortality rate higher in Wales?

    The Welsh Conservatives' health spokesman, Russell George, said the Covid mortality rate was higher in Wales than other parts of the UK.

    But is that true?

    Over the course of the pandemic, the age-standardised mortality rate for deaths involving Covid – the measure used by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) – is the same in Wales and England at 147.4 deaths per 100,000, with both Scotland (126.9) and Northern Ireland (132.5) lower in the 22 months to the end of December.

    The age-standardised mortality rate due to Covid - with Covid the underlying cause of death - is slightly higher in England, than in Wales.

    When a crude mortality rate, not adjusting for the age or population profile, is used, deaths are higher in Wales.

    Mortality table
  3. 'Hard to follow' Johnson on self-isolation changes

    Mark Drakeford said it was "hard to follow" a statement by the prime minister that he did not expect England's current self-isolation regulations to be renewed when they run out on 24 March.

    Boris Johnson told MPs the rules could even end before that date.

    Wales' first minister said he thought the suggestion had simply been "floated" to "capture a headline".

    "If you're releasing people knowing that they are infectious, knowing that they will infect other people, I think that is a very, very strange thing for a government to conclude, that he would be willing knowingly to sanction that," he said.

    "Testing and self-isolation has been a really, really important part of the way in which we have tried to prevent the worst of coronavirus happening.

    "I would need a lot of persuasion that we were in such a benign position that you could afford to do away with that protection."

  4. Plaid calls for vaccination push

    As Wales moves towards normality, Covid would "remain a very serious disease" for those who are unvaccinated, according to Plaid Cymru leader Adam Price.

    He said it was important to encourage unvaccinated people to get the vaccine "to protect them and to protect all of us and to prevent, you know, the nightmare scenario of a new variant which could emerge".

    "If we allow pools of people that are unvaccinated that provides a reservoir from which a new variant which could be a more serious variant," he said.

    "Let's hope it doesn't happen. But you know, we need to make sure that we don't send out the wrong message that COVID in becoming endemic doesn't mean that COVID has disappeared."

  5. 'History is catching up with Boris Johnson'

    Asked if he was surprised Boris Johnson was embroiled in the lockdown party row and could be forced from office, the first minister said: "No, if I'm truthful about it.

    "The prime minister [is] someone who's been sacked from two previous jobs for not telling the truth.

    "I think the Times wrote an editorial on the eve of the December 2019 election pointing to the many flaws in the prime minister's record.

    "In many ways, I think, what you see is his history catching up with him."

  6. Boris Johnson deflecting from 'dire difficulties'

    Mark Drakeford and Boris Johnson

    Decisions to entirely lift Covid restrictions in England are being made to deflect from the "dire difficulties the Prime Minister has created for himself", Mark Drakeford has said.

    "And as for the UK government, let me just say, if anybody believes that their announcements this week on coronavirus were the result of a careful consideration of the science, or because they had a well worked out plan for what they were doing, I think that would be a very optimistic view indeed," he said.

    "Everything that is happening in Westminster at the moment is seen entirely through the lens of how can we get something else to be reported, other than the dire difficulties of the prime minister has created for himself.

    "And that's what I believe lies behind the announcements that we've seen this week."

  7. No plan to charge for lateral flow tests - yet

    Wales is "well placed" to continue to have a "strong supply" of lateral flow tests and any decision to end their free supply would be taken by all four governments of the UK, Mark Drakeford said.

    There have been newspaper reports that UK ministers are planning to make free kits only available in high-risk settings such as care homes, hospitals and schools, and to people with symptoms in the coming months.

    Answering questions from journalists, the first minster said: "The funding decisions are ones made by the four nations together, [that's] very important for me to emphasise.

    "This is not a decision for the UK government to make alone and then to announce it to the rest of us."

    He added: "If the UK government is contemplating charging people for those tests in future that is a decision that should be made by us all. I've seen no proposition of that sort."

  8. 'Wales sticking to its own plans'

    Mark Drakeford is now taking questions from the press.

    Wales is sticking to its model of lifting Covid restrictions step-by-step, First Minister Mark Drakeford said.

    Outdoor service in pubs and restaurants returns to normal today, but indoor hospitality still has some restrictions – including table service only – for another week.

    Nightclubs also have to stay shut for another seven days.

    Mr Drakeford said the approach was based on the advice from scientists, and has been critical of moves to immediately lift most restrictions in England.

    He said: "It’s that considered, science-led, step-by-step approach that we think has helped to keep Wales safe throughout the pandemic, and we don’t intend to divert from what has been a successful formula for us."

  9. No change to self-isolation rules in Wales

    Mark Drakeford

    Self-isolation rules will remain in place for everyone who tests positive for Covid, Mr Drakeford confirms.

    The self-isolation period for anyone who develops symptons or tests positive for Covid in Wales is seven full days, whereas in England it is five.

    Mr Drakeford said face-covering rules in most public indoor places would also remain in place.

    He said the next review of restrictions would be in three weeks’ time.

    He added Education Minister Jeremy Miles would “set out the next steps to protect staff and students in schools” next week.

  10. Fall of case rate in Wales fastest in UK

    First Minister Mark Drakeford says the latest results from the ONS Infection Survey suggests Wales had a lower rate of infection than anywhere else in the UK.

    He said up to the end of last week, the ONS estimated levels of coronavirus were falling in Wales, England and Scotland.

    "The rate of decline in Wales is the fastest anywhere in the United Kingdom," he said.

    "One in 25 people in Wales were infected, compared to around one in 20 in the other three nations. He also said there was a "gap" between Wales and Scotland together and England “where there were fewer protections in place".

  11. We have passed the peak of Omicron - Drakeford

    First Minister Mark Drakeford says the covid situation has "improved significantly" after "many difficult and worrying weeks".

    Speaking at the Welsh government's coronavirus briefing, Mr Drakeford said: "We can say confidently today that we have passed this peak of the omicron wave and the incredibly high levels of infections we have seen across Wales.

    Last night he confirmed that pubs and restaurants in Wales could now operate outdoors without the rule of six or social distancing and all limits on sports events had been scrapped meaning thousands of fans can return to watch fixtures across the country.

    He told the briefing that the relaxations could go ahead because Covid cases per 100,000 were now at around 500 after peaking at just over 2,300 before Christmas.