More than 9,000 people have died from coronavirus in Spain after a record 864 deaths in 24 hours, with the number of confirmed cases passing the 100,000 mark, the government said.

Spain has the world's second-highest death toll after Italy, with the virus claiming 9,053 lives and the number of confirmed cases reaching 102,136.

But on a day-to-day basis, the rate of new infections continued its downward trend, showing an increase of just over 8%, compared with nearly 11% yesterday, health ministry figures showed.

The death rate has also slowed, from 27% a week ago to 10.5% today, with officials saying the data appear to show the epidemic is reaching its peak.

But officials have warned that even if the epidemic is peaking, the pressure on the intensive care system would be subject to a lag of at least a week or longer, with hospitals likely to reach crisis point by the end of this week or early next.

"The central issue is no longer whether we've reached the peak or not, it seems like we are there," health emergency chief Fernando Simon, who was himself diagnosed with the virus this week, told a briefing.

"The key issue is to make sure that the national health system is capable of guaranteeing adequate coverage of all our patients and treatment," he said.

Health Minister Salvador Illa said the growth rate of contagion was slowing down and, after the peak is over, "the second stage will be to reverse it and the third to eradicate the virus".

Madrid remains the worst-hit region in Spain, with 3,865 deaths and nearly 30,000 cases, leaving hospitals and mortuaries overwhelmed.

The city's streets are virtually empty. The main activity is around hospitals, where health workers are setting up tents to expand capacity, and disinfection crews spray sanitiser.

Workers disinfect recycling bins in Barcelona

Meanwhile, two planes carrying supplies to restock the overloaded public health system have landed at a military airport near Madrid, the Defence Ministry said.

The supplies, including masks, overalls and anti-bacterial fluids, arrived from China and Turkey.

The Spanish government said it had sent five million pieces of protective equipment to health workers over the past 48 hours following other recent deliveries.

A cluster of infections has sprung up around Moncloa Palace, the seat of Spain's government, with three ministers catching the virus, as well as Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez's wife and father-in-law.

Three members of the five-strong coronavirus task force, which has been updating the nation on the epidemic via daily briefings televised from the palace, have also tested positive.

In the northeastern region of Catalonia, which has the highest number of coronavirus patients in intensive care, local media said the medical emergency service (SEM) had advised hospitals to consider forgoing intensive ventilator therapy for patients over 80 years old and use other treatment instead.

A SEM spokesperson would not confirm or deny the contents of the document, but said that all internal instructions had been backed by competent scientific and ethical bodies.