Carnival 2022: from carnival masks to protective masks

Publicação: 9 de February de 2022

Without testing the population and with agglomerations caused by Carnival, Covid-19 may have opened a chapter of the pandemic around here

This year’s Carnival could set back the advances achieved in controlling the Covid-19 pandemic

The controversy over a possible spread of the new coronavirus during Carnival gained strength in mid-January when pulmonologist and researcher at Fiocruz Dr. Margareth Dalcolmo became the target of attacks by the National Federation of Samba Schools (Fenasamba) in retaliation for the article published in Folha de São Paulo. In an incisive manifesto released on January 16 the entity repudiated the article, in which the scientist stated that the first cases of Covid-19 in Brazil, in 2020, came from the parades in the sambadromes. For the sambistas, the arguments are false, untrue and distorted, and they challenged the doctor to present concrete, objective and scientific evidence, in addition to informing that they would take legal action.

Immediately, the Brazilian Society of Tropical Medicine (SBMT) expressed its deep indignation and repudiation of the attack and highlighted that at that moment ALL Brazilian science was being attacked by the samba schools, in the person of Dr. Margareth Dalcolmo. It didn’t take long for the researcher to start receiving support from other entities. For the SBMT, this event unequivocally demonstrates the systematic attack on Science and those who work for it. The note also highlighted that it is up to researchers to produce scientific knowledge and cooperate for its wide dissemination in society, promoting the democratization of knowledge. As the researcher very well pointed out in her article, there is a real risk of collapse in the health system in emergencies and increased demand for hospitalizations and in this scenario, it would be incongruous and high risk, both from sanitary and administrative standpoints – and in which in spite of the scale of the event, which generates temporary jobs and powers the economy — keep the samba school parades in the sambadromes. In addition, the use of public transport, inevitable for most spectators and revelers, and the concentration of people in the clubs themselves, as well as in stands and cabins, would result in a high risk of transmission. Finally, the SBMT presented its full support and solidarity to the colleague, who became a symbol of lucidity in times of darkness and obscurantism, and who represents Brazilian science with brilliance and firmness.

In a note Portela said that samba schools were being victims of prejudiced attacks and claimed discrimination. “In our society, discriminating sambistas is something so common that many tend to naturalize this practice. The discourses may change over the years, but they always portray sambistas as ‘potentially dangerous’ subjects”, highlights an excerpt from the note.

As of January 21 at least 24 capitals plus the Federal District had officially announced that this year’s Carnival had been canceled or suspended. The state capitals that confirmed the cancellation or suspension of Carnival are: Vitória (ES), São Paulo (SP), Rio de Janeiro (RJ), Belo Horizonte (MG), Florianópolis (SC), Curitiba (PR), Distrito Federal, Goiânia (GO), Cuiabá (MT), Campo Grande (MS), Maceió (AL), Salvador (BA), São Luís (MA), João Pessoa (PB), Recife (PE), Teresina (PI), Natal ( RN), Aracaju (SE), Manaus (AM), Macapá (AP), Belém (PA), Porto Velho (RO), Boa Vista (RR) and Palmas (TO).

After all, was the virus present at the 2020 Brazilian Carnival or not?

On the eve of the start of the revelry, which took place between February 22 and 25, Brazil registered only one suspected case of the new coronavirus and had ruled out another 51. At that time, the virus was already present in 26 countries, including the United States and Europe. The confirmation of the first case in Brazilian territory occurred on February 26, Ash Wednesday. The victim, a 61year-old man, was hospitalized at Hospital Israelita Albert Einstein, in São Paulo. He had returned from a trip to Italy, when the country already had a high rate of infection.

Domingos Alves, professor at the Health Intelligence Laboratory (LIS) at the University of São Paulo’s Ribeirão Preto School of Medicine (FMRP-USP), who maintains a website to monitor and project the growth of the coronavirus, produced a Technical Note, in which it makes a correlation of the data, which corroborate the thesis of Dr. Margareth Dalcolmo that it was Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) that was causing cases compatible with the Covid-19 pandemic, during Carnival 2020 and after it took place. According to the researcher, there were two concomitant situations: the delay on the part of the government to decree community transmission and the definition of the disease as such and with a diagnosis, since the first cases were treated as severe pneumonia, without the professionals being aware that they were dealing with Covid-19. It is also worth remembering that the specific tests for Covid, distributed on March 3rd 2020, only began to be effectively applied to those who were hospitalized on March 9th.

“As we can see in the data from the SRAG, especially in the state of Rio de Janeiro, this situation was already quite critical immediately before the tests, that is, there was already a spread with a very large variation compared to the first epidemiological weeks of 2020”, he points out. The data show a significant increase in notifications, hospitalizations, ICU admissions, deaths from SARS, a period in which there were no specific tests for Covid-19. The lack of testing may have masked the results. When analyzing the document, it is clear that practically all SARS cases, after Carnival, were Covid. “When we looked up to the 9th epidemiological week, the number of cases was practically the same. After this period, there was an abrupt increase”, adds Dr. Alves.

This year’s Carnival could set back the advances achieved in controlling the Covid-19 pandemic. As it is an event with characteristics of intense movement of people and large agglomerations, for a long time, it presents all the conditions for the resurgence of the incidence of Covid-19 with the consequences that could arise. It would not be possible to ensure complete vaccination, nor the use of a mask or social distancing.