Spain has reported a new record of 864 coronavirus deaths in one day while total infections broke the 100,000 mark, making it the third country to surpass that milestone behind the United States and Italy.

Spanish health authorities said on Wednesday the total number of deaths reached 9,053.

Total infections hit 102,136, but the 24-hour increase of 7,719 cases was 1,500 fewer than the previous day, offering hope the contagion rate is stabilising.

Worldwide, more than 860,000 people have been confirmed infected with the virus and more than 42,000 have died, according to a tally kept by Johns Hopkins University.

Health workers wearing protective suits in Madrid, Spain. Credit: Manu Fernandez/AP

Spain is two-and-a-half weeks into a national lockdown with stay-at-home rules for all workers except those in health care, food production and distribution, and other essential industries.

The country is frantically working to add to the number of intensive care units in hospitals which are quickly filling up in the country’s hardest-hit regions.

Spanish authorities are bringing into the country 1,500 purchased ventilator machines and asking local manufacturers to ramp up production, with some creative solutions employed, such as snorkelling masks repurposed as breathing masks.

Other European nations are on a building and hiring spree, putting together makeshift hospitals and shipping coronavirus patients out of overwhelmed cities via high-speed trains and military jets.

“It feels like we are in a third world country. We don’t have enough masks, enough protective equipment, and by the end of the week we might be in need of more medication too,” said Paris emergency worker Christophe Prudhomme.

Members of the Military Emergency Unit disinfect the area around a nursing home to prevent the spread of the coronavirus in Pamplona, northern Spain. Credit: Alvaro Barrientos/AP

Russia, meanwhile, sent medical equipment and masks to the US, while Cuba sent doctors to France.

Turkey has sent masks, hazmat suits, goggles and disinfectants to Italy and Spain.

London is just days from unveiling a 4,000-bed temporary hospital built in the ExCel Centre in east London to take non-critical patients so British hospitals can keep ahead of an expected surge in demand.

Spain has boosted its hospital beds by 20%.

Hotspots in Madrid and north-east Catalonia have almost tripled their ICU capacity.

Dozens of hotels across Spain have been turned into recovery rooms, and authorities are building field hospitals in sports centres, libraries and exhibition halls.

Milan opened an intensive care field hospital on Tuesday at the city fairgrounds, complete with a pharmacy and radiology wards.

It expects to eventually employ 900 staff.

Credit: PA Graphics

The pressure is easing on hard-hit Italian cities like Bergamo and Brescia as the rate of new infections in Italy slows. Yet many Italians are still dying at home or in nursing homes because hospitals are saturated and they could not get access to ICU breathing machines.

With more than 12,400 dead so far, Italy has the most coronavirus deaths of any nation.

Italy, Britain and France are among countries that have called in medical students, retired doctors and even laid-off flight attendants with first aid training to help, although all need re-training.

The medical staffing shortage has been exacerbated by the high numbers of infected personnel. In Italy alone, nearly 10,000 medical workers have been infected and more than 60 doctors have died.

France has evacuated 36 patients from the Paris region onboard two medicalised high-speed trains. Credit: Thomas Samson, Pool via AP

The Paris region more than doubled its ICU capacity over the past week – but the beds are already full.

Paris was sending critically ill patients to less-saturated regions on special high-speed trains on Wednesday. Others have been moved by military planes, helicopters or warships.

One reason Germany is in better shape than other European countries is its high proportion of ICU beds, at 33.9 per 100,000 people, compared to 8.6 in Italy. Germany has 775 virus deaths, 16 times fewer deaths than Italy.

Britain still has some free ICU beds available, but the outbreak is likely weeks away from its peak there and the UK has one of the lowest number of hospital beds per capita in Europe.

The new hospital inside London’s Excel centre plans to admit its first patients at the end of this week. Chief operating officer Natalie Forrest warned that it will need thousands of doctors, nurses and volunteers.

“The numbers are scary,” she said.

U.S. health authorities warned the number of dead could reach up to 240,000 even with social distancing measures in place as the New York region also rushed to set up extra hospital capacity.

China, where the outbreak began late last year, on Wednesday reported just 36 new Covid-19 cases.

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