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Sao Paulo postpones carnival over coronavirus
A pedestrian walks past a street mural depicting a nurse wearing a face mask and holding a flower, in Sao Paulo, Brazil, on July 21, 2020. NELSON ALMEIDA / AFP.

SAO PAULO (AFP).- Sao Paulo, the biggest city in coronavirus hotspot Brazil, said Friday it was indefinitely postponing its 2021 carnival because of the pandemic.

"Both the samba schools and the carnival 'blocos' (street parties) understand it's not viable to organize carnival for February next year," Mayor Bruno Covas told a news conference.

Rio de Janeiro, home to the largest carnival in Brazil -- and one of the most famous in the world -- is considering a similar move.

Brazil has recorded more infections and deaths from the new coronavirus than any country except the United States: more than 2.3 million and 85,000, respectively.

Sao Paulo state is the national epicenter, accounting for nearly one-fourth of the death toll. Rio has also been hard-hit.

Covas did not set a new date, but suggested "late May or early July."

Though less famous than Rio's, Sao Paulo's carnival has turned into a massive event in recent years, drawing tens of thousands of revellers in the city of 12 million people.

With its tightly packed street parties, throngs of parade-watchers and passionate embrace of all things sensual and fun, carnival in Brazil would likely be an epidemiologist's nightmare during the pandemic.

Sao Paulo had already canceled its Gay Pride parade in June, one of the world's biggest, and postponed from July to November a "March for Jesus" that draws millions of people each year.

Sao Paulo state announced Friday it was extending its stay-at-home measures by another two weeks, to August 10.

© Agence France-Presse

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