Rio de Janeiro cancels New Year’s festivities due to virus

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Rio de Janeiro (AFP)

The annual New Years Eve celebrations that traditionally see millions of people gathered on Copacabana Beach in Rio de Janeiro have been called off this year as Brazil grapples with an increase in coronavirus infections, authorities said. the city.

The celebrations are “not viable in this pandemic scenario without a vaccine,” the city’s tourist office said in a statement, noting that the world-famous carnival celebrations, normally scheduled for February, may also have to be canceled.

Instead, a virtual New Year’s celebration was planned.

“There is no great reason to rejoice, with more than 80,000 dead” from the coronavirus in Brazil, an official told AFP.

The state of Rio de Janeiro had the second highest number of coronavirus deaths in Brazil, after Sao Paulo, and its death rate far exceeds the national average.

Of the 85,238 deaths recorded on Friday in the country of 212 million inhabitants, 12,654 occurred in the state of Rio de Janeiro and nearly 8,000 in the metropolitan region of the capital alone, according to official data.

The national average is 406 deaths per million population, but in Rio state it is 733 per million, with an even higher rate of 860 per million in the metropolitan area.

A decision on the world famous Rio Carnival celebrations will come later. Earlier this month, some of Rio’s top samba schools said they would not participate unless a vaccine was widely available.

Sao Paulo said on Friday it was postponing its 2021 carnival indefinitely due to the pandemic.

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