Brazil holds first Rio carnival since Covid


Rio de Janeiro’s carnival, a glittering, sequin-studded festival of the flesh, exploded back to life Friday with the first famed samba school parades since Covid-19 hit Brazil.

After two long years of face masks, social distancing, and death, a sparkling sea of dancers, drummers, and multi-storey floats reclaimed the ‘Sambadrome’ – the carnival parade venue in Rio de Janeiro, which had been turned into a drive-through vaccination center at the height of the health crisis.

The all-night parades by the city’s top samba schools Friday and Saturday are the first since February 2020, marking a turning point for hard-hit 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 of staying home and missing it,” Vieira, who has been parading for 20 years, told AFP.

The festivities were hit by tragedy, however, when an 11-year-old girl died after being injured in a float accident during a lower-level samba school parade contest Wednesday.

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