NEW DELHI, May 2 (SCMP) - India could learn from China’s disease control playbook in fighting its Covid-19 surge, according to US presidential medical adviser Anthony Fauci.

Fauci offered advice on how to tackle the “very difficult and desperate situation”, during an interview with The Indian Express published on Saturday.

India has become the pandemic’s epicentre, reaching a record high of 400,000 new daily cases on Saturday, with health care systems overwhelmed and patients struggling for access to care and supplies. Fauci said building makeshift hospitals, like those used in Wuhan last year when the central Chinese city became the first epicentre of the pandemic, could be an emergency stopgap measure.

“What the Chinese did when they had a crisis, you might recall, literally, within a few days they built these emergency units that served as hospitals,” he said.

“It just seems to me, what I was viewing on television [in India], what people were looking for a desperate need for hospital care,” said Fauci, who is also head of the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

He also pointed to China’s use of lockdowns, saying: “We know that when China had this big explosion [of cases] a year ago, they completely shut down. And if you shut down, you don’t have to shut down for six months. You can shut down temporarily to put an end to the cycle of transmission.”

Both India and China have more than a billion people and densely populated urban areas, although China’s outbreak in early 2020 was largely limited to Wuhan and other parts of Hubei province after the government enforced a strict lockdown on the city, which officially recorded around 50,000 cases in two months.

The government banned travel out of the city, with sweeping bans also imposed in other parts of the country. The measures faced criticism at the time, but following their introduction and the imposition of border controls, China has only recorded minor, sporadic outbreaks in the past 12 months.

Although parts of India, like the capital New Delhi, have enacted certain lockdown measures during the latest wave, the government has resisted a national lockdown like the one it implemented last spring.

Other critical measures Fauci highlighted include vaccination campaigns for longer-term control, and getting immediate access to life-saving supplies such as oxygen, ventilators and protective gear.

India has been running short of critical equipment and a number of countries have sent relief shipments in recent days, including the US, Britain, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Thailand.

China, whose relationship with India has been under strain since a deadly clash between soldiers along their disputed border last year, has said it is working to produce and export supplies to India.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi reiterated these measures in a phone call with Indian External Affairs Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar on Friday. Wang also said China was willing to share its experience fighting the epidemic with Indian health professionals, according to a readout of the call.

President Xi Jinping also sent a message of sympathy and offered support to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday.