COVID-19 hits Rio Carnival street parade

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  • Eduardo Paes
    Brazilian lawyer and politician

Rio de Janeiro has cancelled its world-famous Carnival street parades and parties for a second year due to an increase in COVID-19 cases and the threat from the arrival of the Omicron variant, the city's mayor says.

Rio mayor Eduardo Paes announced after a meeting with health authorities that the city would call off the street events that draws hundreds of thousands of Carnival revellers each year.

"The street carnival, by its very nature, due to the democratic aspect it has, makes it impossible to exercise any kind of inspection," Paes said.

The spectacular parade by Rio's samba schools, which the public watches from the stands of the city's Marques de Sapucai Sambadrome, will go ahead, unlike last year, with health precautions to prevent spreading the virus, he said.

Other Brazilian capitals are also cancelling their Carnival street parades. Last week, the northeastern city of Salvador announced it would not celebrate the event.

Belo Horizonte, the capital of Minas Gerais state, also decided it will not sponsor or invest in street parades this year, local media reported.

Sao Paulo, the capital of Brazil's wealthiest state, is planning to transfer its street parade to the city's Interlagos Formula One race track, the Folha de Sao Paulo newspaper reported.

Cases of COVID-19 are on the rise again in Brazil.

The health ministry on Tuesday reported 18,759 new infections and 175 deaths from the virus in the previous 24 hours.

Some 170 cases of Omicron had been confirmed in the country, up from 32 just two weeks ago, it said.

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