Hesperian Health Guides

Covid-19: Health Protection and Security for Protest Marches

Coronavirus Fact Sheets

These guidelines were produced for demonstrations in Ecuador, but are useful everywhere.
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Health is dignity (Zapatismo)
Health is the absence of fear
(Sergio Arouca, Brazil)
Health is care (Feminism)

We must take care of each other while the national government and the legislature — in alliance with the Chambers of Commerce, the banks, and big capital — obey the mandates of the International Monetary Fund but violate the rights of the people. We take care of each other and take to the streets to demand dignity and health without fear. We take to the streets in a state of emergency.

Alt= woman wearing a bandanna over her mouth


Keep two meters apart... Always. Always.

Avoid physical contact. Greet each other from afar.

Wear masks

  • Wear surgical masks, home-made cloth masks, or scarfs or bandanas. Conserve N95 masks for health workers.
  • If they attack with tear gas, don’t touch your face. Do not remove your mask.
  • Never touch your eyes.
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Wear protective face shields against the virus and against pepper/tear gas sprayed at your face. Face shields can be easily made from large clear plastic soda bottles cut in half. See instructions here: www.youtube.com/watch?v=W-4ASh9Cky0.

If you do not have a face shield, wear glasses or goggles.

Bring alcohol for hand sanitizing.

Wear long sleeves, long pants, comfortable shoes.

Wear a hat, tie hair back.

a smoking tear gas canister

If they use pepper spray or tear gas

As you move away from the tear gas or pepper spray, the effect will wear off. Tear gas wears off quickly, pepper spray can last an hour or more.

Tear gas canisters are hot and will burn you. Wear heat resistant gloves if you pick them up. A water and vinegar, or lemon juice soaked mask or bandana over the mouth and nose gives a little protection.

spray bottle containing baking soda and water
  • Watch breathing. Pepper spray can cause severe breathing problems, especially in people with asthma. This can be very frightening. Help people breathe better and stay calm.
  • Flush eyes with lots of water, or better yet, a mix of 4 tablespoons of baking soda in 1 quart (1 liter) of water, or a mix of equal parts of water and liquid antacid (like Maalox). Pour or squirt the water from the inside of the eye (near the nose) toward the outside of the eye (near the ear).
  • Rinse mouth with the same mixtures as for eyes and spit it out.
Alt= a woman bathing


When you get home, remove your gloves, mask, clothing and supplies and leave them outside or in a closed bag to be disinfected or disposed of.

Clean your cellphones upon returning home too. They are the most used, touched, breathed-upon things we all carry.

Wash your hands and bathe.

Wash your clothes in hot water.


Use your cellphone to film and broadcast the march.

Demand that the police maintain their distance: 2 meters/6 feet apart. Demand they identify themselves. Don’t let them touch your cell phone or your identity documents; the police have high rates of COVID infection.

Don’t get arrested. The jails are high-risk places for COVID.

Don’t give in.

Alt= two policemen taking away a man while another man films it.

In case of arrest, shout your name so others know you have been taken. Demand the right to contact family, friends, a lawyer. Write the legal support phone number on your arm in case your phone or papers are lost or taken by the police.

Organize teams of street medics who have or receive medical training for emergencies. They can carry supplies (gloves, masks, sanitizer, eye wash, bandages) in backpacks marked with a red cross and help treat people while protecting themselves and others.


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This page was updated:05 Jan 2024