COVID-19: At least 24 die at Indian hospital after ventilator oxygen runs out

At least 24 COVID-19 patients have died in a southwest Indian hospital after the oxygen to their ventilators ran out.

Officials say a tanker re-filling the machines at the hospital in Chamarajanagar, in the southwest state of Karnataka, suffered a leak. The Opposition is calling the incident "criminal negligence".

"Every time we have to struggle to get our quota of our oxygen cylinders," said BH Narayan Rao, a district official in Chamarajanagar.

"It's a day-to-day fight," he added.

It's the 12th straight day India has reported more than 300,000 new cases of COVID-19. The country's total number of cases is now just short of 20 million.

Medical experts say actual numbers in India could be five to 10 times higher than those reported.

Offering a glimmer of hope, its health ministry said positive cases relative to the number of tests fell on Monday for the first time since at least April 15.

Modelling by a team of Government advisers shows coronavirus cases could peak by Wednesday this week, a few days earlier than a previous estimate, since the virus has spread faster than expected.

At least 11 states and regions have ordered curbs on movement to stem infections, but Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Government, widely criticised for allowing the crisis to spin out of control, is reluctant to announce a national lockdown, concerned about the economic impact.

"In my opinion, only a national stay-at-home order and declaring [a] medical emergency will help to address the current healthcare needs," Bhramar Mukherjee, an epidemiologist with the University of Michigan, said on Twitter.

Reuters / Newshub.