Europe 1 with AFP 4:33 p.m., December 04, 2021, modified at 4:33 p.m., December 04, 2021

The municipal authorities of Rio de Janeiro have announced the cancellation of the New Year's festivities following the arrival of the Omicron variant in Brazil. This decision raises fears of a possible cancellation of the famous carnival, which should take place from February 25 to March 1, already canceled last year due to the Covid-19 epidemic.

The city of Rio de Janeiro will not celebrate the New Year with the usual festivities due to the arrival in Brazil of the new Omicron variant, city authorities announced on Saturday.

This decision raises fears of a possible cancellation of the famous carnival, which should take place from February 25 to March 1, already canceled last year due to the Covid-19 epidemic.

"We are going to cancel the official celebration of the New Year", the festivities that usually bring together on Copacabana beach, with music and fireworks, some three million people, announced "with sadness" the mayor of the city, Eduardo Paes, on Twitter.

Six confirmed cases in Brazil

So far, Brazil has six confirmed cases of people infected with the Omicron variant, two in Brasilia, one in Porto Alegre, and three in São Paulo, which also canceled its New Year's celebrations on Friday. provincial capitals (out of 27 in all) made the same decision. These new restrictions cast doubts on the organization of the carnival in Brazil, in particular that of Rio, one of the biggest festivals on the planet. "We are 3 months before the carnival (...). I always trust science. Hopefully we will not have to cancel the carnival as well", commented Eduardo Paes during a press conference at the end of week.

It has been several weeks since the mayor of the city conditioned the holding of the carnival to the epidemiological situation, which has clearly improved thanks to vaccination (63% of the population of 213 million Brazilians is fully vaccinated).

In the meantime, Rio's samba schools are continuing with rehearsals and the development of thousands of costumes, masks and carnival floats that could not be released last year because of the Covid.

On Friday, the scientific committee of nine states in northeastern Brazil called for the cancellation of carnival festivities in this area, which includes Salvador and Recife.

More than 615,000 deaths linked to Covid

Since Monday, the country has closed its air borders with six African countries (South Africa, Botswana, Eswatini, Lesoto, Namibia and Zimbabwe), for fear of the Omicron variant.

Brazil has deplored more than 615,000 Covid-related deaths since the start of the pandemic, officially making it the second most bereaved country in the world after the United States.

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