Sao Paulo, Jan 12 (EFE).- The governor of Brazil’s Sao Paulo state, Joao Doria, on Wednesday left in the hands of the region’s mayors the decision on what health restrictions to impose during Carnival this year amid the rapidly increasing number of Covid-19 cases.
“Carnival is a decision for the mayor of the municipality,” Doria said at a press conference, although his state has been the Brazilian region hardest hit by the pandemic with almost 4.5 million cases and 155,420 Covid-linked deaths, according to official figures.
In Sao Paulo, Doria recommended only that the municipalities limit the crowds at big cultural, musical and festive events to 70 percent of capacity, a decision that he made obligatory for soccer stadiums, which are within his area of responsibility.
In that regard, he said that “now it’s up to the city halls” to deliberate about how to hold Carnival, which is scheduled for late February and early March and which many Brazilian municipalities have already canceled due to the rapid spread of the highly transmissible Omicron variant of the coronavirus.
In the specific case of the city of Sao Paulo, Mayor Ricardo Nunes canceled the Carnival street dance parades but he gave the green light to the samba schools’ dance parades inside the Sambodrome, where attendees can be subject to more rigid health protocols.
Meanwhile, Joao Gabbardo, the executive coordinator for the Covid-19 Cotingency Center in Sao Paulo, said that each municipality “is confronting a different reality” and, thus, authorities were opting to leave the decision on how to manage Carnival to each locale depending on its circumstances.
Even so, Gabbardo emphasized that the measures could change as the epidemiological scenario evolves, and in fact it is beginning to worsen in Sao Paulo and all across Brazil.
In Sao Paulo state alone, which has some 46 million residents, hospitalizations have increased by “almost 100 percent” while admissions to intensive care units jumped by 58 percent between Dec. 29 and Jan. 11, Gabbardo said.
“The increase in admissions is rather significant, but that number results from a very low basis (of comparison), in relation to our capacity,” he said.
Brazil is one of the countries that has been hardest hit by the pandemic, along with the United States and India, with more than 620,000 deaths and 22.5 million cases, according to official figures.
Omicron is now the dominant strain of the coronavirus in Brazil and in just two weeks the number of cases has skyrocketed eightfold, although the number of deaths is remaining stable at about 100 per day.