Spain has signed a multi-million-euro contract with China to acquire medical supplies to fight the coronavirus epidemic, Health Minister Salvador Illa said Wednesday.
Worth some 432 million euros ($467 million), the deal will cover 550 million masks, 5.5 million rapid test kits, 950 respirators and 11 million pairs of gloves to address shortages in Spain.
The announcement came as Spain saw the number of deaths surge to 3,434 after more than 738 people died in the past 24 hours, overtaking the figure in China where the virus originated late last year.
"We have secured entire production chains (in China) which will be working solely for the Spanish government," Illa said.
The supplies will be delivered "on a staggered basis, every week, with the first -- a major delivery -- arriving at the end of this week," he said.
Despite the fact that Spain's population of 47 million has been under an unprecedented lockdown since March 14, the numbers have continued to spiral with more than 47,000 infected by the virus.
The surge in numbers has brought the medical system to the brink of collapse, with more than 5,400 healthcare workers infected, around 12 percent of the total, and various regional authorities and associations have heaped criticism on the government of Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez over the shortage of supplies.
Illa said the contract was sealed following a conversation last week between Sanchez and China's President Xi Jinping which touched on the question of medical supplies.
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