The COVID-19 pandemic has affected all countries irrespective of their state of development. In countries with traditional societies, religious leaders have been acknowledged as key stakeholders in community engagement activities, including disease prevention. A community-level prevention model was established in 2020 by the Health Promotion Bureau (HPB), Sri Lanka, which incorporated mobilisation of the clergy to support the prevention and response schemes to COVID-19 with non-governmental stakeholders. This model was part of a more extensive community engagement network established by the HPB in cooperation with the country offices for WHO and UNICEF. Building trust, empowering behavioural traits applicable to minimise risks from COVID-19, leadership and coordination, message dissemination, addressing stigma and discrimination, supporting testing procedures, contact tracing activities and vaccination, building community resilience, spiritual and psychosocial support, and welfare provision are some of the useful factors that were identified in the model. Furthermore, a much broader and holistic approach is needed to focus on health behaviours and social and cultural aspects in a multi-faceted nature. This paper highlights a novel COVID-19 prevention model with active involvement of religious leaders that can be implemented in low resource settings. Our experience from Sri Lanka demonstrates the feasibility of implementing this model to mitigate the disastrous situation following the COVID-19 outbreak.

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