Coronavirus leaves world of Brazilian samba in mourning

Like so many of his neighbours in Madureira – a working-class neighbourhood considered Rio’s “cradle of samba” – Álvaro Silva was a diehard supporter of the local samba school, Portela.

Just a few weeks ago the 76-year-old percussionist watched in delight as the group to which he had dedicated more than half of his life took to the streets for its annual carnival procession.

“He was so crazy about Portela that even when their parades went badly it made him happy,” said his wife, the garment-maker and dancer Veridiana da Conceição.

But this year’s carnival was Álvaro’s last. After 10 days in a hospital in west Rio, he died on 19 April, after catching the coronavirus from a neighbour.