One of America’s most famous music festivals, South by Southwest, has been canceled due to fears of coronavirus.
Organizers of the annual event in Austin, Texas, said they had no choice but to cancel it for the first time in 34 years of existence.
This decision was ordered by the mayor of Austin, Steve Adler, who declared “a local disaster”.
The number of coronavirus deaths in the United States is 14, but more than 200 people have been confirmed ill nationwide.
All but one of the deaths occurred in Washington State.
Despite the mayor’s declaration of a local disaster – a largely administrative step – none of the six cases of coronavirus registered so far in Texas is in the state capital.
The World Health Organization says that almost 100,000 people worldwide have contracted the coronavirus. More than 3,000 people died – the majority in China.
In a statement released on Friday, SXSW said it was “devastated” by the news, but abided by the decision.
Event organizers said, “The show must go on” is in our DNA, and it is the first time in 34 years that the March event will not take place.
“We are currently working on the ramifications of this unprecedented situation.”
Some of the biggest exhibitors at the event – including Apple, Amazon, Twitter and Facebook – had already pulled out.
The 10-day event attracts personalities from the worlds of technology, music and media to mingle in the capital of Texas.
Last year, SXSW attracted nearly 74,000 people, including more than 19,000 from outside the United States.
In 2018, visitors spent $ 350 million (£ 270 million) on the festival, according to research commissioned by event organizers.
The organizers of the event were forced to cancel it. A petition to this effect on change.org has received 55,000 signatures.
Several other major technology conferences have been canceled in recent weeks, including the Google Cloud Next conference, the Mobile World Congress and the Game Developers conference.
What happens with the quarantined cruise ship?
Meanwhile, US Vice President Mike Pence, who coordinates the country’s response to the epidemic, confirmed that 21 people had tested positive for coronavirus on a cruise ship that had been quarantined offshore Californian women.
He said 46 people on the Grand Princess had been swabbed – 19 crew members and two passengers were found infected.
There are 3,500 people on board, including more than 2,400 passengers, who have been confined to their cabins.
According to the New York Times, the people on board the ship learned the test results only by looking at the information on the cable.
The captain of the Great Princess is said to have apologized to them through the loudspeaker, claiming that he had received no prior notification from the press conference.
Authorities arrested the cruise liner after learning that three previous passengers had been struck by a coronavirus.
One was a 71-year-old man who died this week in a hospital near Sacramento, California.
Another is seriously ill with Covid-19 in the San Francisco area. A woman from the Canadian province of Alberta has also tested positive.
Meanwhile, two health screeners at Los Angeles International Airport tested positive for the coronavirus, reports the Reuters news agency, and were asked to self-isolate until March 17.
How is the US government reacting?
At the White House briefing, officials said the CDC had shipped 900,000 tests for coronavirus and that 200,000 more would be sent on Saturday.
Another million tests are expected to be sent out early next week, officials said.
Thursday, Pence admitted that the United States lacked coronavirus testing, amid fears that the infection would spread undetected in communities across the country.
On Friday, President Donald Trump signed an $ 8.3 billion emergency bill to fight the epidemic. He urged calm, saying, “It will go away.”
Earlier, the White House briefly canceled the president’s visit to the Centers for Disease Control, after someone at the world-renowned institute of public health in Atlanta, Georgia, was suspected of being infected with the disease .
But the trip was then reinstated in Mr. Trump’s calendar after the person tested negative.
Also on Friday, Mr. Trump – an avowed germaphobe – was seen shaking hands with people while visiting a tornado-stricken community in Tennessee.
He told Fox News on Thursday that he would continue to shake hands with voters, despite public advice from health officials against such physical contact.
“I’ll be shaking hands with people,” he said, “and they want to say hello, hug you, and kiss you. I don’t care.”
What are the latest global updates?
- The number of coronavirus deaths in Italy amounts to almost 200
- Vatican, Serbia, Slovakia, Peru and Togo have reported their first virus cases
A man in the 1980s became the second person in the UK to die after being tested positive for coronavirus
- Scotland’s Six Nations match with France at Scotstoun Stadium in Glasgow has been postponed after a home player contracted a coronavirus.
- France has become the last country to announce the closure of schools, which will affect the most affected areas of the country
- Canada has confirmed its first “community” case of a person who had not recently left the country and had no known contact with an infected person
Cruise ship forced to divert from Malta after doctors threatened to take union action if it docked due to coronavirus problems