Two trains carrying 36 intensive care coronavirus patients left Paris for western France on Wednesday, as a top official warned the capital was running out of hospital capacity.
The evacuations were the first time France’s newly adapted intensive care high-speed trains have brought patients out of Paris.
They previously evacuated COVID-19 sufferers from eastern France, the hardest-hit region.
“We have had an extremely difficult night because we are effectively running out of hospital capacity,’’ Aurelien Rousseau, Health Director for the Ile de France region, which includes Paris, said.
The region had 2,700 patients in the intensive care, despite a normal capacity of only 1,200 beds, Rousseau told the broadcaster, FranceInfo.
Health Minister, Olivier Veran, has said he hopes to have 14,500 intensive care places available soon nationwide, compared to 5,000 before the pandemic struck.
As of Tuesday, the country already had 5,565 coronavirus patients in intensive care, out of 22,000 hospitalised.
France has confirmed more than 52,000 coronavirus infections and 3,523 hospitalised patients have died.
Shortages in intensive care places have been a key concern for many countries worldwide as they get to grips with the pandemic.
Police and gendarmes have handed out 359,000 fines to people caught violating the country’s strict coronavirus lockdown, Interior Minister, Christophe Castaner, said.
Security forces have carried out 5.8 million checks since the lockdown came into effect on March 17, Castaner told LCI television.
Anyone out in public has to carry a signed declaration, stating the reason they left their home, which can be for essential shopping, work, medical appointments or limited exercise.
Castaner also warned that nobody should think of heading away during the country’s upcoming spring school holidays.
During lockdown, he warned, you don’t go on holidays.