The government in Valencia has come up with a plan for making face masks available. For the over-65s and other people categorised as being at risk, masks will be free at pharmacies. Prescriptions for masks are being added to health cards, so all that will be required will be the presentation of the card so that it can be swiped.

There have been confusing messages about the necessity for masks, not least from the World Health Organization, which has suggested that while they can help with limiting the spread of coronavirus, they are - on their own - insufficient.

Meanwhile, Dr. David Nabarro, the WHO’s director-general on Covid-19, has said that wearing masks will be a “new reality”. In making this observation, he added that masks will give people reassurance. He’s almost certainly right, which is why, as masks become more generally available, there will doubtless be the tendency to go and obtain them in great number.

The president of Valencia, Ximo Puig, says that the “silk route” will continue to add to the already 12 million masks that have been imported. There will be plenty, but he still finds it necessary to call for “responsibility” when purchasing them and in making proper use of them. “The masks are not a vaccine. They are one element of protection and they must be used well.” Quite. And in order to ensure responsibility, perhaps the president Valencia and others should go a step further and make them free to everyone. If they are that necessary, that is.

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