The role played by immigrants to keep the National Health Service running and save lives has been highlighted as "invaluable".

Without them, "so many more lives would be lost" said former chancellor Sajid Javid, as he urged people to reflect on the contributions made by immigrants and their offspring to tackle the pandemic.

It comes after heart surgeon Jitendra Rathod, who worked at the University Hospital of Wales, died on Monday morning in Cardiff after testing positive for Covid-19.

The father-of-two is of Indian origin and qualified from Bombay University, as it then was, in 1977, before coming to the UK to work, the Hindustan Times paper reported.

Mr Javid tweeted: "We should all take a moment and reflect on the invaluable contribution of immigrants (and their adult children) to our NHS.

"Without them - however challenging things are now - so many more lives would be lost."

Last week, Health Secretary Matt Hancock praised the contributions of health workers who had migrated to the UK and died after contracting the virus.

"Many of those who have died who are from the NHS were people who came to this country to make a difference, and they did, and they've given their lives in sacrifice, and we salute them," he said.

Some 47% of junior doctors and 43% of senior doctors in the NHS are of black, Asian or minority ethnic (BME) background, according to official figures.

Meanwhile, new data has suggested people in ethnic minority communities may be at greater risk of developing critical coronavirus.

Around a third of people analysed who were critically ill with Covid-19 were from BME backgrounds, according to a report by the Intensive Care National Audit and Research Centre (ICNARC).

Of 2,249 critically ill coronavirus patients analysed by the ICNARC, more than 30% were from BME backgrounds, compared to 64.8% white.

A total of 13.8% were Asian, 13.6% were recorded as black and 6.6% described themselves as other.

Researchers say the figures are currently only a "signal" and stressed more data was required.

BME communities represent around 13% of the UK population according to the 2011 census.

Omar Khan, director at the Runnymede Trust race equality think tank, has suggested the signalled higher rates could be because BME people are more likely to live in large cities and have "high-contact" jobs like in healthcare, pharmacies, delivery and transport.

He also highlighted poorer housing facilities and greater rates of overcrowded households among BME communities in a Twitter post.

But Mr Khan stressed he was not "100% sure" how to interpret the figures.

By Thomas Hornall, PA