3 April 2020

New data from MICS Plus shed light on the epidemic as it emerges in Belize.

As the number of cases of COVID-19 inches up in Belize, demand for high-quality, reliable data on the topic are in high demand. Government officials need to know how the population is responding to the pandemic and how to best place programmes to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. Using the pilot study of MICS Plus in Belize, data on COVID-19 were collected by the Statistical Institute of Belize, in collaboration with UNICEF, and analysed last week, providing representative data for Belize City South Side and Toledo. Details of the methodology are shared online.   

Strikingly, for a novel virus, all survey respondents had heard of COVID-19. When asked about what they are doing to protect themselves from the disease, respondents said they are most likely to avoid crowded places and wash their hands often, an activity made possible by nearly all having soap at home and a place for handwashing. More than 40 per cent of respondents feel they are at risk for infection, while 40 per cent feel they are not and over 15 percent simply do not know. Interestingly, the respondents who feel at risk say it is due to their jobs or the contagious nature of the virus. Those who did not think they were at risk cited the low number of cases in Belize or said that they stay at home and practice good safety measures, as advised by the Belize Ministry of Health. Overall, respondents feel that quarantine of travellers and those infected are the best measures to take in the fight against COVID-19. 

Ms Paulette Wade, the Monitoring and Evaluation Specialist, UNICEF Belize noted, “This is one of the only ways we can currently get high quality representative data on the status of Belizeans as all face-to-face surveys are currently on hold in the country. We intend to share and discuss this with our government partners to support the COVID-19 response including public education programmes on COVID-19, as the pandemic unfolds in the country.”  

In the coming weeks, additional waves of MICS Plus will collect more in-depth data on COVID-19 on an accelerated 2-week basis. This will gather data on the social and secondary effects of COVID-19, especially as they affect children.