Images of critically ill coronavirus patients being loaded on trains to be transported out of Paris show the measures French authorities are taking to stop hospitals being overwhelmed.
Thirty-eight people are seen being moved into a high-speed TGV train to be taken to parts of France where the hospitals are less strained.
The photos, which show medical staff in protective gear wheeling patients on to the train, emerged after the country’s death toll rose above 3,500.
“What is planned from the Paris region by TGV is [to transport] 38 sick people,” Bruno Riou, who leads the Paris hospitals crisis team, told reporters on Tuesday.
“We're close to knowing whether we will be able to remain under the saturation stage, so the regional transfers, notably tomorrow, will be an important security valve, even if it's a small number of patients.”
The country has recorded more than 52,000 cases, according to data from Johns Hopkins University, and almost 10,000 of those have been recoveries.
Latest coronavirus news, updates and advice
The situation has become critical in the capital, where intensive care units are being stretched to capacity with people suffering from infection.
France, like many other countries, has imposed a lockdown to reduce contact between people and slow the spread of the virus to ensure its hospitals aren’t completely overwhelmed.
The French army has been helping to move patients around the country, and some have been moved abroad to help ease the burden.
A total of 36 patients were moved on medically adapted TGVs from the east of the country to the west on Sunday.
The 38 patients pictured in Paris were reportedly set to be moved to Brittany, in the west.
“We had 200 patients in intensive care in mid-March, 1,000 on 24 March and as of today about 1,900,” said Antoine Vieillard-Baron, head of the surgical and medical intensive care unit at University Hospital Ambroise Pare.
“That shows a colossal increase in a very short space of time, which makes things extremely difficult.”