Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) technical guidance by WHO Responding to community spread of COVID-19
Responding to community spread of COVID-19
7 March 2020
health incident management systems should be reviewed to
include a whole-of-government and society approach.
Although COVID-19 is different from influenza, building on
existing Influenza Pandemic Preparedness Plans is a good
starting point. Until medical countermeasures for COVID-19
are available, prevention and control strategies will rely on
public health measures to reduce transmission.
On 30 January, the World Health Organization declared the
2019 coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak a public
health emergency of international concern (PHEIC). As of
4 March 2020, 77 countries have reported cases of
Several countries have demonstrated the ability to reduce or
stop transmission of the COVID-19 virus. The Strategic
Preparedness and Response Plan for COVID-19 aims to slow
and stop transmission, prevent outbreaks and delay spread;
provide optimized care for all patients, especially the
seriously ill; minimize the impact of the epidemic on health
systems, social services and economic activity.
Enhance whole-of-society coordination mechanisms
to support preparedness and response, including the
health, transport, travel, trade, finance, security and
other sectors. Involve public health Emergency
Operations Centres and other emergency response
A comprehensive package of measures is required for
countries to prepare when there are no cases, sporadic cases,
clusters of cases, community transmission, or country-wide
transmission. The priorities and intensity of work for each
technical area will depend on which scenario a country or a
sub-national area currently faces. This document provides
guidance for responding to community transmission of
Sensitize the public to their active role in the
Engage with key partners to develop national and
sub-national preparedness and response plans.
Build on existing plans such as influenza pandemic
Enhance hospital and community preparedness
plans; ensure that space, staffing, and supplies are
adequate for a surge in patient care needs.
Establish metrics and monitoring evaluation systems
to assess effectiveness of measures. Document
lessons learned to inform on-going and future
preparedness and response activities.
Prepare for regulatory approval, market
authorization and post-market surveillance of
COVID-19 products (e.g. laboratory diagnostics,
therapeutics, vaccines), when available.
COVID-19 strategic preparedness and response plan
Outlines the strategic actions to guide national and
international efforts when developing context-specific
national and regional operational plans.
Available in English and Russian.
This document also compiles technical guidance for
government authorities, health workers, and other key
stakeholders to guide response to community spread. It will
be updated as new information or technical guidance become
available. For countries that are already preparing or
responding, this document can also serve as a checklist to
identify any remaining gaps.
The available guidance and trainings are grouped in ten areas:
1. National Coordination
2. Risk communication and community engagement
3. Public health measures
4. Case management and health services
5. Infection prevention and control
6. Surveillance and risk and severity assessments
7. National laboratory systems
8. Logistics, procurement and supply management
9. Maintenance of essential services
10. Research and development
Public health emergency operations centre network
Contains useful resources for countries activating their public
health emergency operations centre.
Available in English and French.
Training: OpenWHO Emerging respiratory viruses, including
Methods for detection, prevention, response and control
Available in English, Arabic, Chinese, French, Portuguese,
Russian, and Spanish.
It is critical to activate coordination mechanisms as early as
possible and well before community transmission occurs
widely. Existing national preparedness plans and public