Amidst the new global coronavirus outbreak a slew of tech giants and famous faces are withdrawing from the annual SXSW festival.
The music, film, comedy, interactive media and business conference is one of the largest of its kind in the world and is due to take place in Austin, Texas from 13 to 22 March.
The event annually attracts more than 400 000 visitors to the city of Austin, but as fears grow over the outbreak of the Covid-19 virus more and more brands and celebrities are withdrawing from the festival.
Netflix, Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Twitter, TikTok, Mashable, LinkedIn, Audible, IBM and Intel have all withdrawn from SXSW. Celebrities like Ozzy Osbourne and Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails have also decided to stay away.
Channel24 was due to attend the festival for the first time this year but earlier this week took the decision to also withdraw from covering the event.
A petition has been launched on Change.org calling for the festival to be cancelled due to the health risk involved. The petition currently has over 52 000 signatures.
Despite the aforementioned, the organisers of the festival have made it clear that SXSW 2020 will continue. In a statement released on 5 March organisers said: "SXSW is working closely on a daily basis with local, state, and federal agencies to plan for a safe event. As a result of this dialogue and the recommendations of Austin Public Health, we are proceeding with the 2020 event with the health and safety of our attendees, staff, and volunteers as our top priority."
The organisers added: "At this time, we have a small number of cancellations from participants. This includes attendees who were traveling from heavily affected areas, registrants whose companies have instituted travel bans, and those who have opted out due to personal preference."
Regarding the Change.org petition, SXSW said: "We are aware of this petition. SXSW is working closely on a daily basis with local, state, and federal agencies to plan for a safe event. As a result of this dialogue and the recommendations of Austin Public Health, the 2020 event is proceeding with safety as a top priority."
South Africa on Thursday confirmed its first coronavirus case after a man travelling abroad from Italy returned home. For more information on the coronavirus visit Health24.