Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo postpone Carnival parades due to COVID-19

Amid a rising number of COVID-19 cases, Brazilian cities Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo announced that their Carnival parades would be postponed until April, Reuters reported.

“Unfortunately we do not have the sanitary conditions to hold Carnival on the date that was planned,” Daniel Soranz, the health secretary for Rio, said to reporters, per the wire service. 

In a joint statement, the two cities said that the event would be postponed until April instead of being held in late February as scheduled. The two cities were previously considering still holding samba school though they had already canceled Carnival street parties.

The news comes as Brazil sees a surge of new COVID-19 cases amid the spread of the omicron variant. Over 204,000 infections were reported on Friday, the highest count of COVID-19 cases for the country at that point since the start of the pandemic, per data from the World Health Organization. 

In comparison, daily cases in the country were in the thousands in mid- to late-December.

According to data from Johns Hopkins University, about 70 percent of Brazilians are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. 

The omicron variant, which now makes up the overwhelming majority of COVID-19 cases in the U.S., has proven to be highly transmissible. Health officials remain unsure if omicron will be the final wave of the pandemic.

“It is an open question whether it will be the live virus vaccination that everyone is hoping for,” President Biden’s chief medical adviser Anthony Fauci said in at the World Economic Forum’s Davos Agenda online conference earlier this week, according to CNBC.

“I would hope that that’s the case. But that would only be the case if we don’t get another variant that eludes the immune response of the prior variant.”