Queen Elizabeth: 2020 has brought people closer

Britain's Queen Elizabeth has issued her Christmas Day message, expressing gratitude to volunteers and healthcare professionals for their roles in dealing with the coronavirus pandemic.

The Queen made the annual address on Friday, saying "a year that has necessarily kept people apart has, in many ways," brought them closer.

The monarch said she and her family have been "inspired" by stories of people who volunteered in their communities to help others in need.

The Queen said people owe "a debt of gratitude" to front-line services that shine "a lamp of hope" for them.

The Queen extended her thoughts and prayers to people who are "mourning the loss of those dear to them" or "missing friends and family-members distanced for safety."

Britain has recently confirmed more than 30,000 cases of coronavirus infection per day. A new variant of the virus has also been spreading in the country.

Many people in Britain were unable to spend Christmas with their family members or friends as rigorous anti-infection steps, including a lockdown, are in place in London and elsewhere.

The Queen also reportedly spent the holiday with her husband Prince Philip.