20 January 2020

Advisory for Sparks on COVID-19

Date Applicable from: 15th March 2020

Date Applicable till: 15th April 2020 unless updated advisory is issued.

Status: Level 2 Alert Practice Enhanced Precaution

Exception: Level 3: Avoid Non-Essential Activities

1. International Travel 

2. People with special considerations



The outbreak of COVID-19 continues to evolve and travelers may have questions regarding their travel plans and the best way to prepare and protect themselves from exposure to the new virus. 

This is an advisory applicable to all full time and part-time employees, hired consultants (full time and part-time), interns, volunteers and fellows of Sampark Foundation.

There are three levels of Alert:

Level 1: Watch – Practice Usual Precautions

Level 2: Alert: Practice Enhanced Precautions

Level 3: Avoid Non Essential Activities


This Alert is at LEVEL 2 status: Practice ENHANCED PRECAUTIONS:

Exception: For International Travel: Our stance is to align with MoHFW. The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India has declared a Level 3 to Avoid Non-Essential Travel.

A. How do I protect myself & my colleagues during this period?

1. Use Namaste or Salaam or a verbal greeting instead of a handshake.

2. Stay at home if you have fever, respiratory symptoms, or believe you are sick. Practice enhanced precautions. If you don’t absolutely need to be in the office, stay at home and work.

3. If you develop these symptoms when you’re out in the field or at office, immediately wear a mask and practice hand hygiene. Strive to isolate yourself and avoid all avoidable and unnecessary exposure to people and crowds.

4. Don’t give in to myths such as- COVID-19 virus 'cannot' be transmitted in areas with hot and humid climates. Refer WHO guidelines on the same here

5. If you are fit and well, with no symptoms, there is no evidence that wearing facemasks as a general prevention measure is helpful.

6. Cover your face with a tissue while coughing or sneezing, throw the tissue in a dustbin and wash hands with soap and water.

7. So you are in the office, what can you do?

  • a. Good personal hygiene always works. Follow the 8 steps to handwashing with soap and water for 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 70% alcohol if soap and water is readily available.
  • b. Limit non-essential visitors.
  • c. Use your elbow instead of fingers to navigate commonly touched items like door handles, switches and so on, wherever possible and if you have to use your hands follow it up with a handwash/sanitizer.
  • d. Clean and disinfect equipment (e.g., mobile phones, laptops, tablets, keyboards) routinely.
  • e. Use social distancing strategies: increase the space between people and decrease the frequency of contact. 6 feet apart is recommended by the Centres for Disease Control Prevention (CDC). If not possible, try one arm’s length.

8. Is your office safe?

Our administrative officers ensure that cleaning is conducted with disinfectants. They will:

  • a) Routinely clean frequently touched surfaces with household cleaning spray or wipe containing at least 70% alcohol: including tables, lift switches, doorknobs, light switches, handles, desks, toilets, faucets, sinks, etc.
  • b) Ensure bathrooms are supplied adequately with soap, water, drying materials so visitors and staff can wash their hands.
  • c) Place the alcohol-based hand sanitizer in visible, frequently used locations such as registration desks and exits.

9. How do I apply precautions in the field?

Items that are currently handled by multiple people need to either be disinfected or multiple instances of handling need to be limited. Examples of situations where this is applicable are:

a) Handling of paperwork/survey questionnaires/documents

b) Handling of SSS Kits/ Workbooks/ Audio Devices 

c) Handling equipment such as photocopiers/ printers/ etc in common places in state/ District Offices

d) When handling any of the above, immediately use a hand sanitizer or soap to wash your hands.

10. If at any point in time, you feel uncomfortable coming into office, speak to your team members and manager and Work From Home

B. Meetings, Workshops, Trainings and Conferences

1. Postpone large events or do them differently – online / webinars

2. Essential meetings up to 10 people are acceptable (till further notice)

1. Official meetings and local small group meetings may continue as planned as they are essential (postpone non-essential meetings)

3. If you’re working in a village or location (interiors) where there has been absolutely no travel or potential exposure to COVID-19, you may go ahead and conduct the meeting/training etc., with approval from Government Functionaries 

4. School- surveys are acceptable – Ensure tools are kept at a place and children pick it themselves. Avoid direct touch.

5. Teacher/ BRC/CRC Surveys (one to one): up to one to ten are acceptable. 

6. Post data collection, immediately get everyone to sanitise/ wash hands 

Caveats: Anyone with cold symptoms or potentially exposed to COVID-19 (locations and areas) are exempt from attending these meetings. Please maintain social distancing at all instances.

C. Travel

1. For International Travel: The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India has declared a Level 3 to Avoid Non-Essential Travel. So that’s what we’ll follow too.

2. For Domestic Travel including local travel and intra-city travel: LEVEL 2 status: Practice ENHANCED PRECAUTIONS

3. For Local Travel including local travel and intra-city travel: LEVEL 2 status: Practice ENHANCED PRECAUTIONS

Special Considerations:

If you’re someone who is likely to get sick more easily or if getting sick would be notably problematic, we strongly encourage you to work from home. In addition, if any of the following apply to you, we strongly encourage you to work from home.

1. If you have a compromised immune system, are pregnant or have respiratory issues or have high a risk medical condition (See List below)

2. If you’re a primary caregiver or single parent

3. If you’re in immediate contact with people (e.g. family members) that are more vulnerable to COVID-19.

4. If you’re in immediate contact with people who have elevated risks of being infected with COVID-19 (e.g. your partner travelled to a high-risk area)

For any questions please reach out to the Helplines set up by the Ministry of Health and Welfare, Government of India. You can view the numbers here.

Practice Enhanced Precautions: What does this mean for you?

1. If you are travelling abroad or have plans to travel abroad, check this link for the latest instructions. However, we urge you to consider if your travel is indeed Essential or Not. If you cannot ascertain this for yourself, reach out to your People Engagement Manager and/or Reporting Officer

2. If you are travelling domestically, we recommend ask yourself three questions:

a) What would you gain if you made the visit?

b) What would you lose if you postponed/deferred the visit?

c) Is there any other way to conduct this meeting without travelling?

3. If you’re travelling from home to office or to the field – same as above. When in doubt speak to the meeting organiser and your reporting officer.

4. If for any reason, you feel unsafe, do talk to your team and take a call to abstain or postpone that travel.


List of High Risk Medical Conditions

Underlying medical conditions may increase the risk of serious COVID-19 for individuals of any age. Please see this List (as issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Surveillance, USA).

1. Blood disorders (e.g., sickle cell disease or on blood thinners)

2. Chronic kidney disease as defined by your doctor. Patient has been told to avoid or reduce the dose of medications because kidney disease, or is under treatment for kidney disease, including receiving dialysis

3. Chronic liver disease as defined by your doctor. (e.g., cirrhosis, chronic hepatitis) Patient has been told to avoid or reduce the dose of medications because liver disease or is under treatment for liver disease.

4. Compromised immune system (immunosuppression) (e.g., seeing a doctor for cancer and treatment such as chemotherapy or radiation, received an organ or bone marrow transplant, taking high doses of corticosteroids or other immunosuppressant medications, HIV or AIDS)

5. Current or recent pregnancy in the last two weeks

6. Endocrine disorders (e.g., diabetes mellitus)

7. Metabolic disorders (such as inherited metabolic disorders and mitochondrial disorders)

8. Heart disease (such as congenital heart disease, congestive heart failure and coronary artery disease)

9. Lung disease including asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (chronic bronchitis or emphysema) or other chronic

conditions associated with impaired lung function or that require home oxygen

10. Neurological and neurologic and neurodevelopment conditions [including disorders of the brain, spinal cord, peripheral nerve, and muscle such as cerebral palsy, epilepsy (seizure disorders), stroke, intellectual disability, moderate to severe developmental delay, muscular dystrophy, or spinal cord injury].

11. People over the age of 60 and under the age of 5 need to be particularly vigilant