LONDON (Reuters) - Britain's new health minister Sajid Javid said on Sunday his priority was to oversee a return to normal from the COVID-19 pandemic, and praised his predecessor Matt Hancock who was forced to resign after breaking social-distancing rules.
Javid, a former finance minister, starts his new role with a pressing to-do list - coronavirus cases are rising, hospitals are warning of a growing backlog of people needing care and staff are battling burn-out in their fight against the disease.
"We are still in a pandemic, and I want to see that come to an end as soon as possible, and that will be my most immediate priority to see that we can return to normal as soon and as quickly as possible," he told BBC News.
Javid said later: "Thanks to the fantastic efforts of our NHS (National Health Service) and social care staff who work tirelessly every day, and our phenomenal vaccination programme, we have made enormous progress in the battle against this dreadful disease."
(Reporting by Elizabeth Piper; Editing by Toby Chopra and Pravin Char)