British health minister Sajid Javid has apologised for and deleted a tweet urging people to take a Covid-19 vaccine and not to "cower" from the virus, saying he had made "a poor choice of word".

Mr Javid, who replaced Matt Hancock as health minister last month after his predecessor stepped down for breaking Covid-19 restrictions by kissing an aide in his office, had been criticised for using the word "cower" when tens of thousands in Britain have died from the virus and many are trying to keep safe.

Britain, which has one of the highest official Covid-19 death tolls, has shifted its strategy to fight coronavirus from using restrictions to limit its spread to opening up society in the hope vaccines will protect most people from serious illness.

Cases are high, but so is uptake of Covid-19 vaccines, and officials argue the shift is needed to help businesses in sectors such as hospitality and the night-time economy.

Writing on Twitter, Mr Javid said he had "deleted a tweet which used the word 'cower'."

"I was expressing gratitude that the vaccines help us fight back as a society, but it was a poor choice of word and I sincerely apologise. Like many, I have lost loved ones to this awful virus and would never minimise its impact."

On Saturday, he had written that he had recovered after testing positive for Covid-19, after suffering mild symptoms.

"Please - if you haven't yet - get your jab, as we learn to live with, rather than cower from, this virus."

Angela Rayner, deputy leader of Britain's Labour Party, was one of several MPs from opposition parties and people who had lost family members to the pandemic to criticise his use of the phrase "cower from".

"127,000 people have died from this virus, tens of thousands of whom would still be here if it wasn't for the catastrophic failures of your government," she said on Twitter.

"So how dare you denigrate people for trying to keep themselves and their families safe."

Roads across central London were closed as the runners in the Asics London 10k
swept through the streets

Thousands take to streets of London for 10k race

Thousands of runners have taken to the streets of London for the first mass 10k race in England since lockdown restrictions were lifted.

Roads across central London were closed as the runners in the Asics London 10k swept through the streets.

Race director Ian Allerton described it as "an important day for the mass participation industry" as many runners helped raise funds for more than 200 charities in what he hoped would be the start of "a new season of safe running events in 2021".

Organisers said they had been working closely with Westminster City Council and Public Health England over the past six months to ensure the event was Covid-secure.

London 10k race

The annual mass participation event, which was billed as "London's best summer celebration of running," was previously cancelled due to the pandemic.

The 2021 route was brought to life by the sounds of live bands and DJs at every 1km to help the runners keep moving as they raced past London landmarks such as Westminster Abbey, Big Ben and the London Eye.

The event came a day after thousands of adult joggers and walkers in England laced up their trainers to take part in 5km Parkruns in local parks for the first time since lockdown eased.