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SXSW festival in Texas cancelled over coronavirus fears

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Houston (AFP)

The South by Southwest festival in Texas has been cancelled due to concerns over the spread of the novel coronavirus, organizers and the host city of Austin said Friday.

"The City of Austin has cancelled the March dates for SXSW and SXSW EDU," the festival said in a statement. "SXSW will faithfully follow the City's directions."

Austin mayor Steve Adler told a news conference he had declared a local disaster in response to the coronavirus, and had "issued an order that effectively cancels South by Southwest for this year."

The music, tech and film festival was slated to take place March 13-22, although Netflix, Apple and Amazon had all already pulled out.

More than 400,000 people attended the 2019 edition of SXSW, which was headquarted in the Texas capital's convention center but hosted many events spread throughout the city.

Texas has so far recorded a handful of novel coronavirus cases, and there have been more than 200 confirmed cases in the United States.

The SXSW announcement comes on the heels of Miami authorities saying they were cancelling the Florida beachfront city's annual electronic dance festival, which draws in more than 160,000 revelers, over coronavirus.

The March 20 to 22 event was to feature sets from major DJs including Gesaffelstein and Sofi Tukker.

There have been more than 100,000 confirmed coronavirus infections across 92 territories worldwide, according to AFP's latest toll, and almost 3,500 deaths. Florida has recorded nine cases.

Coachella, the marquee music festival set to kick off the weekend of April 10 in the California desert, did not immediately respond to an AFP request for confirmation on whether the event will go ahead.

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