The Swedish town using chicken manure to prevent coronavirus spread

Garden worker Robert Nilsson presents some chicken manure to fertilise lawns in the Stadsparken park in Lund, Sweden amid the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic. The move is an attempt to dissuade residents from gathering there for the traditional celebrations to mark Walpurgis Night. (Johan Nilsson/TT News Agency/AFP)

A Swedish town has turned to a traditional source to try to prevent coronavirus spreading during an annual festive event on Thursday - chicken manure.

The university town of Lund, in the south of the country, 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.

The City park (Stadsparken) is closed in Lund, Sweden, on April 30, 2020, amid the novel coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic. - Garden workers fertilized lawns with chicken manure in an attempt to aviod residents from gathering there for the traditional celebrations to mark Walpurgis Night. (Photo by Johan NILSSON / TT News Agency / AFP) / Sweden OUT (Photo by JOHAN NILSSON/TT News Agency/AFP via Getty Images)

"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 news agency 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.

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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.

Walpurgis Night celebrations take place across Sweden every year (Getty images)

"Lund could very well become an epicentre for the spread of the coronavirus on the last night in April," the chairman of the local council's environment committee, Gustav Lundblad, told the Sydsvenskan newspaper.

Defending the decision to spread a ton of chicken manure in the park, he said: "We get the opportunity to fertilise the lawns, and at the same time it will stink and so it may not be so nice to sit and drink beer."

The origins of Walpurgis Night date back to pagan celebrations of spring.

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