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Epidemic Control Toolkit
for community volunteers
Switch to response managers
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Last update: 2023-06-07

Key facts

Transmission: Droplets, aerosols and direct contact

  • When infected people cough, sneeze, blow their nose, or spit they spread small droplets through the air, which are then breathed in by other people
  • Direct contact (for example, through kissing, sharing cups or eating utensils) with infected saliva or nose mucous

Most vulnerable to severe consequences

  • Elderly
  • People with chronic lung conditions (for example, asthma)
  • People with weakened immune systems and/or chronic diseases (for example, diabetes or cancer)


  • Fever (usually)
  • Cough (usually)
  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath (usually)
  • Loss of taste or smell (sometimes)
  • Headache (sometimes)
  • Sore throat (sometimes)
  • Abdominal pain (sometimes)
  • Diarrhoea (sometimes)
  • Muscle pain (sometimes)

What can you do to prevent and control an epidemic?

Monitoring the community and identifying sick people 

  • Identify and isolate sick people before they spread the disease to others

Treatment and management

  • Refer suspected cases to health facilities
  • Provide psychosocial support to the sick person and their family members

Sanitation and waste management

  • Promote proper disposal of waste that might be contaminated 
  • Promote disinfection of reusable supplies


Hand and respiratory hygiene

  • Promote good hand hygiene (handwashing with soap) 
    • BEFORE: preparing food; eating; feeding a child; treating wounds; or caring for sick people
    • AFTER: using the toilet or cleaning a baby; touching garbage or waste; touching or feeding animals; blowing nose, coughing or sneezing; treating wounds; or caring for sick people
  • Promote respiratory hygiene and coughing etiquette (cover your cough or sneeze using your sleeve or a tissue, wash hands after coughing or sneezing, do not spit onto the ground or in public)

Personal protection and hygiene

  • Practise and promote social distancing
  • Use and promote personal protective equipment (for example, face masks and gloves) when in contact with potential cases

Social mobilization and health promotion

  • Find out the specific advice being given by health and other relevant authorities 
  • Promote recommended health practices (such as vaccination, social distancing, separation of healthy people and sick people, etc.)
  • Model following this advice and inform community members of current health practice advice 
  • Offer support and encouragement to follow the advice  
  • Try to gain understanding about if and why health practice advice is not being followed  
  • With the advice of your supervisor and health authorities, work with communities to overcome barriers to following health advice and recommended practices 


  • Support mass vaccination campaigns where available 

Mapping and community assessment

A.    Make a map of the community.

B.    Mark the following information on the map:

  • How many people have fallen sick with COVID-19? Where?
  • How many people have died? Where? When?
  • Who and where are the vulnerable people?
  • Where are the health facilities? (include traditional healers)

C.    Record the following information on the back of the map:

  • When did people start to fall sick with COVID-19? 
  • How many people live in the affected community? How many are children under five years?
  • Are most people in the community vaccinated against COVID-19? 
    • Is there a vaccination campaign planned?
  • What are the community’s habits, practices and beliefs about vaccinations? Are there societal, cultural or religious beliefs that prevent people from getting vaccinated? 
  • Are there handwashing facilities in the community? Are soap and water always available? 
  • How common is it for people to live or work together in crowded spaces? 
    • Is there ventilation and fresh air in homes, schools, and workplaces? 
  • Who and where are the vulnerable people? Who is most affected by COVID-19?
  • What are the community’s habits, practices and beliefs about caring for sick people? 
    • Consider any differences in roles and responsibilities between women and men.
  • Is a social mobilization or health promotion programme in place?
  • Which sources do people use / trust the most for information?
    • Are there rumours or misinformation about CoVID-19? What are the rumours?