14,000 sign petition calling for SXSW to be cancelled over coronavirus fears

Austin
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AUSTIN (KXAN) — Almost 14,000 people have signed a petition calling for South By Southwest to be cancelled due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Hundreds of thousands of people from across the world will descend on Austin for the two-week festival, which begins on March 13.

However, some locals have expressed concerns about possible transmission of the disease, which is rapidly spreading.

Globally, about 83,000 people have been diagnosed with the coronavirus. About 2,800 of those people died.

A woman wears a surgical mask on Congress Avenue in Austin on Friday, Feb. 28, 2020. (KXAN Photo/Chris Davis)

In the US, there are 15 confirmed cases. One person has died, health officials said on Saturday.

Austin Public Health says there are “no imminent plans to postpone any current events,” including SXSW.

In a statement to KXAN this week, the festival said:

Where travel has been impacted, especially in the case of China, we are seeing a handful of cancellations. However, we are on par with years past in regard to registrants who are unable to attend. We are increasing our efforts to prevent the spread of germs per Austin Public Health’s recommendations, and we will continue to monitor the situation closely and will provide updates as necessary.

SXSW

The petition was started by Shayla Lee, who wrote that “having an event like this is irresponsible amid an outbreak.”

During SXSW, events take place all over downtown Austin, with the hub at the Austin Convention Center on East Cesar Chavez Street.

In guidelines posted on its website, Austin Public Health said it is “closely monitoring the rapidly evolving situation,” and has developed a five-phase plan to coordinate response activities.

No health departments in Texas have requested the cancellation of any events at this time, as the risk of person-to-person spread remains low, APH said.

Regarding SXSW, APH said:

The health of the Austin community and those who visit our City is our highest priority. APH coordinates with South by Southwest (SXSW) annually to monitor and prepare for any public health emergencies during the festival – this year is no different. While in flu season, APH is working with SXSW to disseminate disease prevention messaging to help keep attendees and the entire Austin community safe. APH is also working with the Texas Department of State Health Services and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to monitor and prepare for any local cases of COVID-19.

Austin Public Health

To view the petition, click here.

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