One of the world’s most famous annual music festivals has been cancelled amid coronavirus fears.
South By Southwest was cancelled a week before the nine-day music and film extravaganza was due to kick off in Austin, Texas next Friday.
The festival – commonly known as SXSW – was expected to welcome more than 500,000 visitors from more than 1000 countries, sparking fears it may exacerbate the rapidly spreading virus.
A Change.org petition called for the end for this year’s event and attracted more than 55,000 signatures as of Friday afternoon.
The petition’s organizer, Shayla Lee, wrote: ‘I’m concerned about the hundreds of thousands of people who will be traveling to Austin, Texas in March for the SXSW festival. I believe having an event like this is irresponsible amid an outbreak.’
‘They have not made any plans on how they will prepare against the spread of the virus. Please think about the children, immune compromised, elderly, diabetic, asthmatic…people who could die because of this.’
Friday’s announcement came as a crushing blow to businesses across Austin, which were anticipating a massive influx in tourism and spending over the course of the festival.
The coronavirus epidemic, which has infected more than 101,000 worldwide, spooked a number of companies and entertainers who have pulled out of the event, including Netflix, Apple, Ozzy Osbourne and Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails.
Other companies that pulled out ere Amazon, Facebook, Twitter, TikTok, Mashable, LinkedIn, Audible, IBM and Intel, according to Forbes.
Health officials have warned that the virus is easily transmissible between people who are in close contact with one another and through airborne respiratory fluids produced in coughs or sneezes.
People infected with the disease may spread it without showing any symptoms, according to the Centers for Disease Control, which has warned people to stay away from large gatherings.
‘The virus that causes COVID-19 seems to be spreading easily and sustainably in the community in some affected geographic areas,’ the CDC wrote.
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