09 February 2016, The Tablet

IN PICTURES: Mardi Gras Carnival in Rio shrugs off concerns over Zika virus

Carnivalgoers shook off concerns over the outbreak of the Zika virus in Brazil to enjoy Rio's traditional Mardi Gras carnivals over the last few days.

Samba schools spend as much as $3 million on productions that take nearly the whole previous year to prepare, then just an hour to perform. And although nearly the entire cast is unpaid, the choreography would make Broadway jealous.

A tough economic climate has made it tough for revellers who gather across Brazil to party prior to Ash Wednesday: a lack of sponsorship and a weak real has seen 48 Brazilian cities cancel their carnival processions.

In Rio, six of the city's 12 carnival clubs competed on Sunday night, while the remaining six competed against each other on Monday night for the chance to appear in the final parade which is this Saturday (13 February).

The main concern for revellers in Rio, which numbered 75,000 on each night in the main Sambadrome, came from health experts in Brazil. They had warned before the weekend against kissing strangers during Carnival parties, after the Zika virus was found in saliva and urine for the first time.




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