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Sao Paulo cancels Carnival street parades

Sao Paulo, Jan 7 (IANS) Brazil's largest city of Sao Paulo has cancelled Carnival street parades following an increase in Covid-19 infections and hospitalisations fuelled by the Omicron variant, Mayor Ricardo Nunes announced.

"We have decided to cancel the street Carnival as a result of the epidemiological situation," Xinhua news agency quoted Nunes as saying at a press conference.

The decision impacts neighbourhood bands that traditionally parade through the streets at Carnival time, which draws 10 million to 15 million revellers every February for Brazil's most popular annual celebration.

Nunes said the Carnival highlight, the parade of samba school floats at the city's Sambodrome, will take place as planned at the end of February, since it will be easier to apply sanitary and social distancing measures at the venue.

In the last 10 days, Covid-19 hospitalisations have risen by 30 per cent in Sao Paulo, following Christmas and New Year's celebrations and social gatherings, according to local health authorities.

Other Brazilian cities have also cancelled Carnival street parades, including Rio de Janeiro, Salvador de Bahia, Fortaleza and Recife.

As of Friday, Brazil's overall caseload and death toll stood at 22,328,252 and 619,654, respectively.

Brazil's infection tally is currently the third highest in the world, after the US and India, while the death toll is largest after the US.