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Europe Puts Its Hospitals on Rails

Italy and Spain have hospital trains on standby for any future Covid-19 outbreaks, after medical workers on France’s high-speed TGV train treated 84 patients.
All aboard: In April, patients traveled by train to western France, where hospitals had greater capacity to treat Covid-19.
All aboard: In April, patients traveled by train to western France, where hospitals had greater capacity to treat Covid-19.Thomas Samson/AFP via Getty Images

This month, Italy introduced a new tool in its fight against coronavirus and other health crises: a hospital train. Capable of treating and transporting as many as 21 critically ill patients, the newly equipped train is currently located at Milan’s Greco Pirelli railway station, in Italy’s worst hit region, Lombardy. With pressure on regular hospitals reduced since Italian cases of Covid-19 peaked between late March and early April, the train is not due to be deployed immediately. It could, however, be used to relieve any regions hit hard in a second wave. It is one of several converted trains in western Europe since the beginning of the pandemic – with one mobile clinic already being credited for saving lives.