The number of coronavirus deaths in Spain has surpassed China, where the pandemic originated last December, to become the second worst-hit country in terms of fatalities after Italy.

According to update by the Washington-based John Hopkins University, Spain has recorded a total of 3,647 deaths, while the death toll in China stood at 3,291.

Italy tops the list of global deaths at 7,503.

A total of 49,515 confirmed cases means Spain has a nationwide fatality rate of around 7.2 per cent. New cases rose by 20 per cent.

The new figures were released halfway through a crucial week for Spain as authorities monitor whether a draconian national lockdown adopted 11 days ago has led to a flattening of the curve of new infections.

On Wednesday, Health Minister, Salvador Illa announced a new deal with China for the provision of hundreds of millions of medical items.

Despite the national lockdown imposed on March 14, which is to be extended until April 11, both deaths and infections have continued to mount, with officials warning this week would be particularly bad.

The Madrid region has suffered the brunt of the epidemic with 14,597 infections — just under a third of the total — and 1,825 deaths, or 53 percent of the national figure.

With hospitals on the brink of collapse from the surge in patients, troops have set up a massive field hospital in Madrid’s vast IFEMA exhibition centre which currently has 1,500 beds but which could be expanded to take in up to 5,500 people — making it the largest hospital in Spain.

And with the city’s funeral services overwhelmed, officials have commandeered the Palacio de Hielo ice skating rink to serve as a temporary morgue.

The contract with China, valued at 432 million euros ($466 million), came after a phone conversation between the Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez and Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Over 3,200 people have died and around 81,000 people have been infected by the novel coronavirus in China so far.

China has timely shared its experience in epidemic prevention and control and diagnosis and treatment since the beginning of the outbreak.

The number of deaths around the world from the novel Coronavirus cases is slated to have crossed 19,000.

(With inputs from agency)