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South By Southwest Festival Cancelled Due To Coronavirus Outbreak

The long-running tech, film and music conference -- held in Austin, Texas -- made the announcement on Friday local time.

A statement posted on the annual event's website came just days after public health officials in Austin said the festival was going ahead as planned.

SXSW (which stands for South By Southwest) was scheduled to kick-off on March 13 and run till March 22.

"We are devastated to share this news with you. 'The show must go on' is in our DNA, and this is the first time in 34 years that the March event will not take place," the statement reads.

"We are now working through the ramifications of this unprecedented situation.

Crowds at the Sound Ventures Tech Competition, PerfectPitch, at SXSW in 2018. Image: Joe Scarnici/Getty Images for Sound

"As recently as Wednesday, Austin Public Health stated that 'there’s no evidence that closing SXSW or any other gatherings will make the community safer'. However, this situation evolved rapidly, and we honour and respect the City of Austin’s decision.

"We are committed to doing our part to help protect our staff, attendees, and fellow Austinites."

Indications this year's event had lost momentum due to coronavirus fears included major companies like Twitter, Facebook, Intel, Vevo and Mashable pulling out of the conference.

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Music stars including the Beastie Boys and Ozzy Osbourne also withdrew from the event in recent days.

SXSW draws thousands of people to Austin each year, including a large contingent of international guests. The economic impact of last year's event on the city was estimated to be $535 million, according to a report paid for by the festival.

A Change.org petition was recently created asking organisers to cancel the event, citing how "irresponsible" it would be to go ahead "amid an outbreak".

The premiere of "Isle of Dogs" at the Paramount Theatre during SXSW in 2018 in Austin, Texas. Image: Gary Miller/FilmMagic

The petition has over 55,000 signatures and counting.

The number of confirmed cases of coronavirus in the United States surpassed 250 on Saturday. The number of cases in Australia has surpassed 60.

As the rest of the world struggles to contain the virus and markets stagger, the Chinese province at the centre of the outbreak reported no new infections outside its capital, Wuhan, on Saturday, according to the New York Times.