World Health Organisation bosses say Christmas shouldn't be cancelled this year despite the surge in coronavirus cases.
They are urging people to look at having a “different” sort of celebration, instead of dozens of people crammed in a room.
It follows speculation about whether the festive period will effectively be called off because of Covid-19.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said he is “hopeful” that “some aspects of our lives” will be back to normal by then, after unveiling tighter regulations on social gatherings.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said he hopes the new rules, which ban all indoor and outdoor gatherings of more than six people, will mean Christmas 2020 isn’t cancelled.
Dr Margaret Harris, a leading official from World Health Organisation (WHO), has now insisted it doesn’t have to scrapped.
But she warned the Covid-19 threat “is back” and urged people to be vigilant about trying to stamp it out.
She told Times Radio: "Of course you shouldn't cancel Christmas. You shouldn't cancel any of the things that bring joy to you.
“But look at having a different sort of Christmas. Still a wonderful Christmas but don't necessarily have 30 people crammed into a poorly ventilated room."
She added: "You have to take the precautions. You have to listen to the advice.
“Pay attention. The key message is coronavirus is back, the threat is back.
“Work together to stop it."
More than 27million people around the world have been reported to be infected by the virus.
WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said this week the world must be better prepared for the next pandemic, as he called on countries to invest in public health.
PM 'hopeful' Christmas won't be cancelled as coronavirus restrictions tightened
Dr Harris also defended young people, who she says aren’t to blame for the disease spreading.
Politicians have been accused of trying to shift the blame for the rise in cases on to younger age groups socialising.
Figures show cases among them are higher than older people.
But Dr Harris said: "I know young people are always being picked on.
“It is not just young people.
“It's people getting together in large numbers, often family reunions or weddings or whatever and thinking coronavirus is over, but the problem is it never went away.”
- Boris Johnson
- World Health Organisation
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