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San Francisco declares "local health emergency" over coronavirus

UPDATE: GDC 2020 "moving forward as planned" as city introduces preventative measures

San Francisco has declared a state of emergency over the ongoing outbreak of novel coronavirus (COVID-19).

The Department of Public Health said there have been zero confirmed cases among the city's residents, but noted "the global picture is changing rapidly, and we need to step-up preparedness."

Declaring this a "local health emergency," the city will mobilise its resources to prepare for such an outbreak, as well as raise awareness on how citizens can better protect themselves and prevent the disease from spreading.

"Given the high volume of international travel from San Francisco, there is a growing likelihood that we will see cases eventually," the Department said in an official document. "If and when this occurs, the Health Department will make an announcement, in cooperation with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and California Department of Public Health (CDPH)."

The Department emphasised that Bay Area residents "remain at low risk of becoming infected," unless they have recently travelled to areas that have been affected or come into contact with someone already diagnosed with the disease.

It added: "Your risk for this virus depends on travel history, not on race, ethnicity or culture." This speaks to the anti-Chinese sentiments already discussed by the mayor of Boston when requesting that PlayStation reconsider its plans to withdraw from PAX East.

Next month, San Francisco's Moscone Center is due to host the 2020 Game Developers Conference. Several games companies -- including Sony, Facebook, Kojima Productions and most recently Electronic Arts -- have announced they will not be attending the event.

GDC organisers UBM has previously said it will be enhancing its sanitation procedures but indicated that the event will largely go ahead as planned. GamesIndustry.biz has reached out for comment.

So far, over 80,200 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed around the world, with the majority being in China. The disease has led to more than 2,700 deaths.

Update: The organisers of GDC have issued a statement, confirming no changes to the conference.

"We've recently learned of the additional preventative measures instituted by the City Of San Francisco around COVID19. Locally, the California Department of Public Health, the San Francisco Department of Public Health, and the San Francisco Travel Association continue to support the convening of public events, and we are moving forward as planned. More information can be found in the updated SFTA letter to GDC attendees."

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