A small group of patients from Lombardy in Italy and the border region of Alsace in France are receiving treatment in German clinics. The symbolic value of the gesture is clear, but could it prove a useful strategy too?
Owing to the coronavirus pandemic, most of Europe's borders were closed this week, on the 25th anniversary of them being opened as part of the Schengen Zone. However, some of the worst-hit regions in Europe have dispatched patients to hospitals in Germany and other European neighbors, after receiving offers of help.
The eastern Alsace region of France, which borders Germany, is among the worst hit in the country. As well as airlifting patients to clinics in Germany and Switzerland, it is also sending around 20 more west on specially repurposed high-speed TGV trains for treatment elsewhere in France. The trains set off on Friday.
The shortages the region is facing have already become familiar, namely intensive care beds and respirators.