World

Brazil holds first festival since pandemic began

After a 2-year absence, the Brazilian city Rio De Janeiro held a festival.  

A myriad of dancers and drummers took to the beach city’s “Sambadrome,” its dedicated carnival parade venue, which had been turned into a drive-through vaccination centre at the peak of the pandemic.

The all-night parades by the city’s top samba schools Friday and Saturday nights are the first since February 2020, marking a positive turning point for Brazil, where Covid-19 has claimed more than 660,000 lives, second only to the United States.

“I’m just so happy. I think a lot of people are going to cry… including me,” said Ana Vieira, a 48-year-old geography teacher, who was wearing a giant, glistening white costume to parade for the Imperatriz samba school.

“Carnival is life. You can see the happiness on people’s faces after two long years staying home and missing it,” Vieira, who has been parading for 20 years, told AFP.

“I couldn’t sleep last night, I was so excited,” said Rita Marcelino, a 62-year-old domestic worker who was dancing up a storm as she waited to parade — a moment of catharsis after losing her job and “many” friends and family members to the pandemic.

There were concerns carnival would be axed again this year, after Rio authorities canceled it last year and then postponed this edition by two months from the traditional dates, just before the Catholic season of Lent, over fears of the Omicron variant spreading.

However, with over 75 percent of Brazil’s 213 million people now fully vaccinated, the average weekly Covid-19 death toll has plunged from more than 3,000 a year ago to around 100, allowing the festival to take place.

All participants and the 75,000 attendees expected each night are required to present proof of vaccination.

City officials have not authorized the large carnival street parties known as “blocos,” but several smaller ones are still being held.

ARTICLE: PAUL MURDOCH

MANAGING EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE

PHOTO CREDITS: NBC BAY AREA

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Paul, 37, is from Scotland in the UK, but currently lives and works in Bangkok. Paul has worked in different industries such as telemarketing, retail, hospitality, farming, insurance, and teaching, where he works now. He teaches at an all-girls High School in Bangkok. “It’s a lot of work, but I love my job.” Paul has an active interest in politics. His reason for writing for FBA is to offer people the facts and allow them to make up their own minds. Whilst he believes opinion columns have their place, it is also important that people can have accurate news with no bias.

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