Brazilian authorities are evaluating a series of restrictions for the upcoming year ending celebrations in a move to curb the spread of the new coronavirus Omicron variant, it was reported Thursday.
Two cases of Omicron have been detected in Brasilia and the city of São Paulo has already announced the suspension of the New Year festivities, something other districts are also about to follow suit, according to local media.
Brasilia Governor Ibaneis Rocha has confirmed there had been two cases of Omicron spotted in his jurisdiction. One of them was a man from South Africa who had made a stopover at São Paulo. His PCR test last Monday had come out positive for COVID-19 and he has since been under isolation. Health authorities also confirmed Thursday his case was one of Omicron.
With Thursday's news, the total number of people in Brazil with the Omicron strain have reached five, three in São Paulo and two in Brasilia.
The results of tests performed on a Rio de Janeiro woman who had arrived from Africa in recent days are yet to be released.
In the current scenario, the City of São Paulo has decided to cancel the massive New Year's celebrations on Avenida Paulista, an event that usually garners over 1 million people. São Paulo Mayor Ricardo Nunes said Thursday the measure was necessary assess the new situation and to monitor the health care system's capabilities.
There will also be no Reveillon (New Year's Eve) celebrations in Brasilia, Salvador,, Belo Horizonte, Curitiba and Porto Alegre, among other major cities. Reveillon is Brazil's second most iconic celebration after carnival.
Nunes had already warned days ago that Reveillon was already in danger with Omicron, and even Carnival is now in jeopardy, although the Mayor has said he would make such a decision later and in accordance with recommendations from Health Surveillance professionals.
Nunes is currently New York, together with São Paulo Governor João Doria, who also supported the restrictive measures.
We are on the path of caution and of acting with zeal in the protection of lives, it is not time to celebrate Reveillon, Doria said, even though he admitted a final decision on Reveillon was up to the mayors.