The Tory government is not “capable” of defending the population from the spread of Omicron, the First Minister has said in a fierce attack on Boris Johnson’s administration.

Mark Drakeford launched the broadside while announcing that Covid restrictions would not be eased in Wales.

Mr Drakeford said that England was a “global outlier” in refusing to take action to protect its population.

The Prime Minister has said that he believes England can “ride out” Omicron without the need for further restrictions - despite skyrocketing cases and rising hospitalisations.

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The First Minister told journalists: “The outlier here is not Wales.

"Wales is taking action, as is Scotland, as is Northern Ireland, and as are countries right across Europe and right across the globe.

"The one country that stands out as not taking action to protect its population is England.

“So the question is not ‘why is Wales not following what is going on in England’ - the real question is why is England such a global outlier in the way in which governments elsewhere are attempting to protect their populations from coronavirus.

“And the political contrast between Wales and England is this: here in Wales we have a government that is capable of acting and determined to act when that is necessary to protect our population.

“In England we have a government that is politically paralysed.”

Mr Drakeford said Johnson was “unable” to get either his Cabinet or his party MPs to agree to “take the actions that his advisers have been telling him ought to have been taken”.

Johnson and a number of Conservative MPs mocked Welsh Covid restrictions during a House of Commons session in Parliament on Thursday.

The Prime Minister called the measures “baroque eccentricities”, and former business secretary Andrea Leadsom described them as “bonkers”.

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Alert level 2 restrictions remain in Wales, including wearing face coverings indoors, groups in public places such as restaurants limited to six people, and working from home if possible.

Indoor events of more than 30 people or outdoor events for more than 50 people are not allowed.

Drakeford said 994 people with Covid-19 are being treated in Welsh hospitals – a rise of 43% compared with last week and the highest number since last March – while around 40 are in critical care, the majority of whom are unvaccinated.

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