COVID-19 General Guidelines


COVID-19 General Guidelines

In this section you will find resources to existing validated IFRC documents on thematic issues. These links will automatically access latest versions of documents from the IFRC GO platform, the IFRC extranet FedNet, and link to the GDPC – IFRC Business Continuity Plan Help Desk, and others.

Overall Guidance for IFRC and National Societies

In support of National Societies’ collective preparedness, containment, and mitigation activities for the current COVID-19 outbreak, the following technical guidance is recommended by IFRC. Please refer to IFRC GO for all appeal and response documents relating to the Global Coronavirus operations. Complementary or urgent advice can be obtained from IFRC’s Regional Offices or from the Geneva Emergency Health team at Additional documents and translations will continue to be added as they become available. Please use this form to provide feedback or request different information or analyses in future guidance notes and annexes.

  • Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) supplies for COVID-19 – specifications and users (2/3/20) – EN
  • WHO: Rational use of personal protective equipment for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) (27/2/20) – EN


Duty of Care


Options for ensuring coverage for uninsured Red Cross and Red Crescent volunteers impacted by COVID-19:


Federation-wide Databank and Reporting System – Death reporting form


The COVID-19 pandemic is not only threatening communities around the world, it is also having a major impact on the carers and frontline, including volunteers. Some Red Cross and Red Crescent (RCRC) volunteers have contracted the virus and there will likely be many more in the months to come, even as precautions are taken. Sadly, some have already died due to the disease. Consistent with the IFRC Policy on Volunteering, National Societies (NS) have a well-acknowledged duty of care to their volunteers. This includes the responsibility to reduce the risks volunteers face and to find solutions for those who fall ill but lack access to medical care or other critical support. It is essential that the NS leadership champions and strongly advocates for the duty of care toward volunteers, both through implementation of consistent actions and solutions throughout the organization (including HQ and branches) as well as through rallying support from partners, such as government authorities.

National Society COVID-19 preparedness

  • Guidance for National Societies Preparedness for COVID-19 outbreak (7/2/20) – EN FR ES AR RU PT
  • IASC Scaling Up COVID Readiness and Response in Humanitarian Settings including camps (draft, 3/2020) – EN

Risk communication and community engagement

Guidance note and key resources

  • Risk communication and community engagement: Guidance note (2 Feb 2020) EN FR SP AR RU PT Mandarin
  • IFRC Risk communication guides and assets EN
  • COVID-19 RCCE Strategy AfricaEN FR
  • Presentation for NS leadership, Effective Risk communication and community engagement in Epidemics (ppt, 11 February 2020) EN
  • Stigma prevention
  • Social Stigma associated with COVID-19 (20 February 2020) EN FR SP AR
  • Community work
  • Key tips and discussion points for community workers, volunteers and community networks (23 February 2020) EN FR SP
  • COVID-19: How to include marginalized and vulnerable people in risk communication and community engagement EN
  • Including migrants and displaced people in preparedness and response activities for COVID-19, guidance for MENA NS – EN
  • Collecting community feedback
  • A guide to run focus group discussions (FGD) with communities on COVID-19 – EN FR
  • A guide to run focus group discussions with community volunteers on COVID-19 – EN FR
  • Rapid assessment tool: KAP – EN, Short version (adapted for South Africa Red Cross)
  • Community feedback collection form – EN SP
  • Community feedback log sheet EN (NS) EN (IFRC)
  • IFRC Feedback Starter KitEN
  • Risk register COVID-19 (24 February 2020)EN
  • Social media
  • How to do polling on social mediaEN
  • Tips on using social media for COVID-19 EN
  • How to Use Social Media to Better Engage People Affected by Crises EN
  • Mainstream media
  • Radio guide: The purpose of this risk communication and community engagement (RCCE) guide is to help Red Cross Red Crescent run an interactive radio chat show programme to provide communities with timely, accurate information about the new coronavirus EN FR
  • A guide for the media on communicating in public health emergenciesEN FR Bahasa
  • Manuals for humanitarians on working with broadcasters and on media programming for communities affected by humanitarian crises – various languages
  • Mobile cinema
  • COVID-19 Mobile cinema guide and running order (coming soon)

Rapid training for community response

The RCRC is recognised around the world for its access to and long term work at a community level. The NS works alongside the MoH in the prevention of the spread of the virus and the promotion of preventative measures. Often the Government specifically requests RCRC to take a strong role at the community level.

Programs and roles may be different in countries but all National Societies can assist the Coronavirus response through community based interventions such as:

  • delivering key messages re the virus transmission
  • prevention messages including hygiene (hand washing) and health promotion (coughing and sneezing etiquette) and disposal of waste materials from sick people
  • guidance to community members in areas where home care may be an option such as isolating the sick person and identifying one carer, this must follow MoH/WHO recommendations
  • assist in stopping rumours through delivering clear messages.

Rapid training for community response Guide

  • Guide for National Society teams including health coordinators, supervisors, branch officers & volunteers, Rapid training for community response to the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak (23 February 2020) EN
  • COVID19-signs and symptoms, transmission of disease (ppt, 16 March 2020) EN
  • Introduction to Psychological First Aid in epidemics (ppt, 17 February 2020) EN
  • RCRC home care for coronavirus patients (ppt, 16 March 2020) EN
  • WHO: Advice on the use of masks in the community, during home care and in healthcare settings in the context of the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) outbreak – EN FR ES AR RU ZH
  • WHO: Home care for patients with suspected novel coronavirus (nCoV) infection presenting with mild symptoms and management of contacts (4 February 2020) EN FR ES ZH
  • Sneezing etiquette – Epidemic Control for Volunteers (pdf, 17 February 2020) EN
  • Spitting etiquette – Epidemic Control for Volunteers (pdf, 17 February 2020) EN
  • RCRC Prevention and key messages and Risk Communication and Community Engagement (19 February 2020) EN

IFRC/NS business continuity planning

The overall goal of the planning guidelines you can download below is to provide guidance to the Federation Secretariat and Red Cross/Red Crescent Societies about the importance of Business Continuity Planning, which establishes the basis for the organization to continue functioning during the crises, and recover and resume business processes when programs have been disrupted unexpectedly. Because RC/RC societies play a crucial role in the overall emergency disaster response, disruptions in service should be minimized in order to maintain public trust and confidence in the RC/RC emergency response capabilities. As such, RC/RC management should incorporate business continuity considerations into the overall design of their emergency response model to proactively mitigate the risk of program disruptions.

This planning guide is an assembly of existing standard operating procedures, plans and best practices that will explore the key components of a Business Continuity planning process. It will also provide a high-level framework for the creation, implementation, and maintenance of a business Continuity Plan (BCP).

Business continuity planning guidelines

  • Business Continuity Checklist (February 2020)EN FR SP AR RU ZH
  • Business Continuity Delegation of Responsibilities and Assignments (February 2020)EN FR SP AR RU ZH
  • Operational Business Continuity Plan – Organizational Critical Functions and Service (February 2020)EN FR SP AR RU ZH
  • Operational Business Continuity Plan – Critical Incident Staff Matrix (February 2020)EN FR SP AR RU ZH
  • Operational Business Continuity Plan – Risk assessment Matrix (February 2020)EN FR SP AR RU ZH

Contingency plans provide an outline of decisions and measures to be taken if circumstances should occur in relation to a specific activity. They generally relate to a planned event, while the business continuity plans relate to programs and assets that are already operational. Even though the risks are different, the development of the contingency plan is relatively uniformed. Although policies will not always cover every eventuality, having contingency plans and regularly updating them to work through ‘what if?’ scenarios, as well as having effective crisis management procedures in place, will go a long way towards keeping a situation under control and maintaining safe operations.

IFRC’s Critical Incident Management Protocol is used in situations that, threatens, or has impact on, the safety / security of personnel, assets or operations to the extent that there is the potential to be a significant disruption or even incapacity to continue to operate. The term critical incident is used in situations that affect the organizsation directly as opposed to the organization responding to situations that affect others. For more information on IFRC’s security procedures, see the security management webpage.


Protection, gender and inclusion

Like all crises, the COVID outbreak will affect people differently based on their sex, gender and other factors, including age, disability, sexual orientation, health status, legal status, ethnicity, and other aspects of the person.

Emergencies exacerbate existing gender inequalities, and the incidence of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV), violence against children can be expected to increase. Marginalized groups are highly likely to more adversely affected by the outbreak and the consequences of the response.

“Protection, gender and inclusion” (PGI) refers to all Red Cross Red Crescent actions which address violence, discrimination or exclusion, in all contexts where National Societies work. This guidance note and related key messages below address issues that may threaten people’s dignity, access, participation and safety and suggests actions to address these threats.

  • Technical guidance note: How to consider protection, gender and inclusion in the response to COVID-19 (17 March 2020) – EN
  • Protection, gender and inclusion and COVID basic guidance – key messages and groups (17 March 2020) – EN

Other key resources

  • COVID-19: How to include marginalized and vulnerable people in risk communication and community engagement, a guidance document produced by UNwomen with inputs from IFRC, WHO, OCHA, BBC Media Action, Humanity & Inclusion, UNFPA, UNICEF, UNHCR, IOM, UNAIDS, ASEAN SOGIE Caucus, and the Regional Emergency Gender-Based Violence Advisory team and TWB- EN
  • Including migrants and displaced people in preparedness and response activities for COVID-19, guidance for MENA NS – EN
  • A guide to preventing and addressing social stigma (IFRC, WHO, UNICEF) – EN ES AR

Blood Services

As the COVID-19 pandemic is rapidly evolving, it is recommended that National Society Blood Services remain in constant contact with their own public health authorities to closely monitor their specific country situation and develop appropriate blood safety and sufficiency responses accordingly. In general, the major areas for blood service consideration in decision-making include epidemic and risk assessment surveillance, donor deferral and recall, inventory control / demand planning, communication, donor and staff shortages, and infection control.

The Asia Pacific Blood Network (APBN) published a Rapid Brief White Paper (2019 Novel Coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2); Expected challenges and risks to blood safety, 17 February 2020) which provides a comprehensive overview of key considerations and potential strategies for blood service decision-making regarding the management of donor, blood and staff safety. The paper outlines a number of key areas for blood programs to consider with regard to COVID-19 response within their own country context, including considerations for the safety of the blood supply, maintaining sufficient blood stocks and also considerations for protecting staff.

Other resources

  • Update: Impact of 2019 Novel Coronavirus and Blood Safety (AABB: 25 February 2020) – EN
  • Important Information for Blood Establishments Regarding the Novel Coronavirus Outbreak (US FDA: 4 February 2020) – EN
  • Rapid Risk Assessment, Outbreak of novel coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19): increased transmission globally –fifth update (European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control: 2 March 2020) – EN
  • AABB’s Coronavirus social media images and resources aimed at the general public – EN
  • AABB’s Coronavirus resourcesEN

Overall Guidance for Migration and Displacement

  • IFRC Guidance for National Societies working with migrants and displaced people – Asia Pacific (11/03/20) – EN
  • IFRC Guidance for National Societies working with migrants and displaced people – MENA (11/03/20) – EN
  • IFRC Guidance for National Societies working with migrants and displaced people – Americas (11/03/20) – EN

Monitoring and Evaluation, and Quality Assurance

The Sphere standards and the Coronavirus response

“A financially sustainable National Society attracts and manages the financial resources it needs to deliver humanitarian services in a transparent and accountable manner.

It manages financial risk and opportunities balancing the humanitarian strategy to respond to present and emerging needs with the adaptive organizational structure and processes that enable delivery on that strategy. “


Building Financial Sustainability is not only about increasing financial income. While attracting and managing resources are key elements for NS Financial Sustainability, it goes hand-in-hand with an effective positioning (based on its core business and mandate) of the NS, and sustainable business models and structures. Along with it, the organisation’s ability to manage risks and opportunities are essential.

The study on NS Financial Sustainability made clear that there are three interlinked domains that contribute to strengthening a National Society’s Financial Sustainability, and an underpinning fourth domain:

  1. Positioning the National Society within the national humanitarian ecosystem, and designing National Society programmes and structures in the light of the National Society’s mission and strategy, as well as realistically available resources,
  2. Attracting financial resources into the National Society, in particular building revenue streams that will remain stable into the future,
  3. Managing financial resources accountably and transparently, and sharing data to enable effective strategic decision-making and financial risk management, and
  4. Strategic National Society leadership involvement is critical to enable the efforts in these three areas to collectively contribute and result in becoming more financially sustainable.


NS Financial Sustainability Guide and Toolkit for COVID-19

These Guidance and the Toolkits are intended to assist National Societies to reflect on its short-term and long-term Financial Sustainability in response to COVID-19 and its economic impact. It is recommended to use this Guidance and the Toolkits as a suggested reflection point and adapting them to the needs of each National Societies.

  • Executive Summary: EN, FR, SP, AR, RU
  • Guidance: EN, FR, SP, AR, RU
  • Toolkit (would link you to FedNet): EN, FR, SP, AR, RU (as these are some sensitive documents and not for the public, we decided not to post it on Sokoni, but instead I appreciate if you could share the link to FedNet)


Please use the toolkits to help get started in your planning, preparation and action.

If you need more support, please contact either your regional office or the Geneva office of the IFRC.

Also, platforms are set up to facilitate discussion and co-creation of approaches for this topic.

Other useful resources