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By Colm Fulton
STOCKHOLM, April 30 (Reuters) - A town in southern Sweden has turned to a traditional source to try to prevent the coronavirus spreading during an annual festive event on Thursday - chicken manure.
The university town of Lund began spreading chicken droppings in its central park to put off would-be revellers who would usually come on April 30 to celebrate Walpurgis Night.
The occasion, marking the shift away from dark, chilly winter days towards brighter spring and summer days, is typically celebrated with picnics, parties and bonfires across the country, and regularly attracts thousands of students.
"This is a park where usually 30,000 people gather, but with COVID-19 this is now unthinkable," the town's mayor, Philip Sandberg, told Reuters. "We don't want Lund to become an epicentre for the spread of the disease."
Sweden has taken a softer approach than many other countries to preventing the spread of the respiratory disease that the coronavirus can cause, asking rather than ordering people to maintain social distancing.
In line with this policy, authorities have requested people avoid gathering for this year's Walpurgis Night, but have not banned festivities.
The authorities fear young people, especially students, will still want to enjoy a picnic and drink in the park.
"Most students in Lund and other parts of Sweden respect the recommendations ... although even a small number of people still going to the park can become a big risk," Sandberg said.
(Reporting by Colm Fulton; editing by Niklas Pollard and Timothy Heritage)
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