Rio de Janeiro cancels Carnival parade due to rising Covid-19 cases, Omicron threat

A performer during the annual 'Ceu Na Terra bloco', in the run up to Rio's carnival, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in 2020. PHOTO: AFP

RIO DE JANEIRO (REUTERS) - Rio de Janeiro has cancelled its world-famous Carnival parade for a second year due to an increase in Covid-19 cases and the threat from the arrival of the Omicron coronavirus variant, the city's mayor said on Tuesday (Jan 4).

Mayor Eduardo Paes announced after a meeting with health authorities that the city would call off the event 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," Mr Paes said in a live Internet broadcast.

Other Brazilian capitals are also cancelling their Carnival 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 infection are on the rise again in Brazil.

The Health Ministry on Tuesday reported 18,759 new cases of the novel coronavirus in the past 24 hours, and 175 deaths from Covid-19. Some 170 cases of Omicron had been confirmed in the country, up from 32 just two weeks ago, it said.

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