Rio de Janeiro has decided to relax the use of masks in Brazil as the COVID-19 pandemic subsides.
Rio Mayor Eduardo Paes announced on Twitter Monday that he had issued a decree ending the use of masks indoors or outdoors, based on the findings of his scientific committee.
Johns Hopkins University data earlier showed that the virus had killed more than 6 million people worldwide. Brazil, which has more than 650,000 confirmed cases of the virus, is the second-hardest hit country, after the United States.
Brazil’s Federal District is where Brasilia is located. Authorities have made it mandatory to use masks only indoors. Local media reports that the same decision will be made in Sao Paulo on Wednesday. Last week, some cities in Santa Catarina (a state in Southern Brazil) stopped requiring masks.
Brazil’s vaccination campaign was successful. The country has seen a steady decline in the number of deaths and contamination. Over 150 million people over the age of 5 have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
Contagions have seen a sharp decline in the past year, but they are steadily falling since the introduction of the omicron version.
Denise Garrett is vice president of Sabin Vaccine Institute, which advocates for increasing global vaccine access. She agrees that masks can be worn outdoors but stresses that people need to consider the risks involved in wearing them indoors or at gatherings.
Garrett stated that the goal now was to reduce viral transmission to the maximum extent possible to prevent the birth of new variants. Garrett spoke to The Associated Press by phone. “The use masks are a very effective method, with a high price-benefit ratio to achieve that.
Rio saw a record number of positive cases on Jan. 10, when more than 33,000 people tested positive. Daniel Soranz (the city’s health secretary) said that the rate of positive cases at the moment is the lowest since March 2020 when the pandemic struck Brazil.