Ambulances stand by to load patients affected with coronavirus (Covid-19) aboard a medicalized TGV (high-speed train) in Strasbourg, France on March 26, 2020.
FREDERICK FLORIN/AFP via Getty Images
  • France turned one of its high-speed trains into a vehicle to transport coronavirus patients from overburdened hospitals in the east to the facilities with more capacity in the west.
  • The trains take about five hours for the journey.
  • Each car on the train can accommodate four patients and is equipped with medical staff and supplies like ventilators.
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Twenty coronavirus patients in critical condition were transferred to a larger hospital in France by a high-speed train that was transformed to be medically equipped, several news outlets reported.

The TGV train is normally used to transport travellers across the country but has been turned into a vehicle to move patients in the eastern part of France to the west, France 24 reported.

The eastern part of France has been hit especially hard by the outbreak, and hospitals in the Loire Valley in the west have more space to treat patients, according to NPR.

"The eastern region is at the peak of its wave, which we will probably all experienced in our regions in the coming weeks," Dr. Lionel Lamhaut, the physician in charge of transporting patients, told France 24.

As of Friday night, France had close to 33,500 confirmed COVID-19 cases and almost 2,000 deaths.

Four patients can fit on each rail car on the train, with stretchers strapped to the tops of the seats. Each rail car also has ventilators, oxygen, and six medical staff, according to NPR.

Lamhaut told French TV that the train rides would be smoother than helicopter journeys.

Medical crew embark in Strasbourg on March 26, 2020 one of the 20 patients affected with COVID-19 aboard a medicalized TGV (high-speed train) to be evacuated to to hospitals in the Pays-de-la-Loire region.
PATRICK HERTZOG/AFP via Getty Images

Additionally, while the train won't be travelling at the maximum of 185 miles an hour, it would be able to transport patients the 500 miles between Strasbourg and Angers in about five hours.

"It will allow us to rotate patients around France, and even around Europe, if we need to," Lamhaut said according to NPR.

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