The first day of the new year was marked by a further 613 deaths from Covid-19 and 53,285 new cases.

The new strain is spreading rapidly, putting intense pressure on an overstretched NHS.

At a time when we should be doing ­everything to control the rate of infections it was depressing to see so many people ­gathering together to celebrate New Year’s Eve.

Their selfish behaviour was not just insulting to those who have spent months shielding but risks fuelling the spread of coronavirus.

The urgent task is to protect the NHS from being overwhelmed by cases.

Boris Johnson and Matt Hancock face questions

But Boris Johnson and Matt Hancock face questions as to whether they were too slow to bring in lockdown measures.

The Tory Government needs to be held to account for running down the NHS to such a point it can barely cope with the crisis.

The UK has just 4,000 intensive care beds, half the number in Germany.

Yes, people have a personal responsibility but that doesn’t let ministers off the hook for neglecting to nurture our health service.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock

Cool prices

Hundreds of thousands of households are struggling to pay their energy bills.

They have been hit by rising prices, the ­additional cost of heating their homes during lockdown and financial pressures caused by job losses and furlough.

There are now fears this situation could get worse if Ofgem agrees to raise the cap on how much suppliers can charge.

The regulator should stand firm in the face of pressure from energy companies.

When so many families are feeling the pinch because of Covid the last thing they need is another price hike.

Brassed On

Brass bands are struggling for funds because of Covid-19. Everything must be done to support them.

We don’t want buglers playing the Last Post for a sound that captures the spirit of Britain.