French Navy to Evacuate COVID-19 Patients From Corsica


Published Mar 20, 2020 2:36 PM by The Maritime Executive

[Brief] The government of France announced Friday that it will deploy the helicopter carrier Tonnerre from Toulon to the island of Corsica in order to transfer critically-ill coronavirus patients to hospitals on the French mainland. 

Tonnerre has two operating theaters and 69 hospital beds on board, along with berthing areas for troops. The vessel's medical bays will be cordoned off and isolated from the rest of the vessel, including the ventilation system, according to Le Figaro. She is expected to set sail this weekend. 

According to police in southern Corsica, the center of the island's outbreak, the deployment will "support the intensive care unit at Ajaccio hospital to anticipate the hospital's response to the needs of the mostly seriously hit patients."

The expectation at present is that Tonnerre will transport about one dozen patients, but the numbers will likely rise beginning next week, regional police chief Franck Robine told France Bleu. 

French defense forces are also setting up a military field hospital near the city of Mulhouse in order to expand treatment capacity.