• The Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras parade will proceed as planned, the organisation said in a statement. (Getty Images)Source: Getty Images
NSW Health has reiterated that there is "still no evidence of community transmission of COVID-19 in Australia."
By
Samuel Leighton-Dore

29 Feb 2020 - 4:13 PM  UPDATED 29 Feb 2020 - 4:13 PM

The Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras parade will proceed as planned, the organisation said in a statement last night, with NSW Health advising that there is "still no evidence of community transmission of COVID-19 in Australia."

The statement highlighted NSW Health's advice that "if you have been in contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19, or returned from mainland China you must self-isolate for 14 days since last contact or departure from mainland China."

It added: "Please avoid gatherings if you have been in contact with suspect cases in countries where there have been outbreaks."

Symptoms for coronavirus include fever, a cough, sore throat or shortness of breath, with community members concerned encouraged to contact their doctor or health direct 1800 022 222 for an assessment.

According to Mardi Gras and NSW Health, tips for members of the community to diminish risk this Mardi Gras season include staying home if you are feeling unwell, cleaning your hands thoroughly with soap and water, covering your nose and mouth when coughing, and sneezing with a tissue.

So, basically just your regular, day-to-day basic hygiene.

Despite misinformation and stigma related to the virus, the Chinese-Australian LGBTIQ+ community is preparing for and 'uplifting' Mardi Gras.

Cedric, the founder and CEO of ANTRA, a not-for-profit organisation representing Australia's Chinese LGBTIQ+ community, told SBS Mandarin that the group had been "so pleased and proud" following the success of their stall at last weekend's Mardi Gras Fair Day. 

They added: "Our stall was very busy and much welcomed at Fair Day and people came to support the presence and visibility of Chinese LGBTIQ+ people.”

However, the Chinese LGBTIQ+ Community Float has been impacted by COVID-19, with complications around costume orders and volunteer numbers. In addition, ANTRA has been forced to cancel their first Mandarin LGBTIQ+ Forum, originally set to take place tomorrow, due to their guest speakers from China being unable to enter Australia.

“A lot of our volunteers couldn’t come back to Australia," JJ, an LGBTIQ+ ally and past float organiser said. "It could be better if we had them here.”

Meanwhile, speaking on The Project last night, Mardi Gras headliner Sam Smith admitted they were nervous about the virus - not in Sydney, but upon returning home to Europe.

"I literally just texted mum saying, 'I'm really scared about the Coronavirus,''' the 27-year-old told host Carrie Bickmore.

"I'm scared."

They added: "I've got to go back to Europe and I'm hearing that it is going nuts. Are you kidding me? I don't like it."

Further information about COVID-19 can be found on the NSW Health website: www.health.nsw.gov.au

NSW Health also have information available in a number of languages here: https://bit.ly/3cdBypa, and simplified Chinese and traditional Chinese here https://bit.ly/3cdojot.

The Sydney Gay And Lesbian Mardi Gras 2020: Live Stream will be available to watch here from Saturday, 29th February 2020 at 07:30 PM.