Rio de Janeiro cancels its Carnaval da Rua for the second consecutive year

In Brazil, a wave of new COVID-19 cases driven by the omicron variant has led Rio de Janeiro authorities to cancel its iconic Carnaval da Rua for the second year in a row.

Rio Mayor Eduardo Paes announced the cancellation Tuesday during a speech broadcast live online. Paes said the “nature” and “democratic aspect” of Carnival make it impossible to control the possible spread of the virus.

But the mayor clarified that the traditional procession of the Rio samba schools in the emblematic Sambadrome will take place next month, since there the authorities can impose mitigation efforts on the spectators, not as in the popular Carnaval da Rua, in the one that blocos or troupes, they go through the streets of the city.

New COVID restrictions in Hong Kong

In Hong Kong, the island’s chief executive, Carrie Lam, announced on Wednesday a two-week ban on flights from eight countries to mitigate a possible fifth wave of COVID-19 infections caused by omicron. The ban on inbound flights from Australia, Britain, Canada, France, India, Pakistan, the Philippines and the United States goes into effect on Sunday.

Authorities at China’s semi-autonomous financial center are keeping about 2,500 Royal Caribbean cruise passengers on board the ship after discovering that nine passengers were close contacts of an omicron group in the city.

Spectrum of the Seas returned to Hong Kong on Wednesday, just days after leaving on a short voyage. The nine passengers were removed from the ship and placed in a quarantine center, where they all tested negative. The remaining passengers and the ship’s 1,200 crew will have to undergo tests before they are allowed to disembark.

Revised CDC Guidelines

Meanwhile, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has added the Caribbean nation of Aruba to its list of destinations considered “very high” risk of exposure to COVID-19. The CDC designates as “Level 4” any destination with more than 500 cases per 100,000 residents during the last 28 days.

With information from the Associated Press, Reuters and Agence France-Presse.