More than half of South Korea’s novel coronavirus cases are linked to a branch of a controversial religious group in the southern city of Daegu.
At least 231 of the country’s 433 confirmed cases are associated with the Shincheonji religious group, according to South Korea’s Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (KCDC).
The total number of cases reported in South Korea in the past 24 hours stands at 229, after 142 new cases were confirmed overnight.
Around 9,300 Shincheonji members are being put into self-isolation and will be tested, the country’s Ministry of Health and Welfare said Saturday.
The Shincheonji is centered around the personality of its founder and chairman, Lee Man-hee. On a website believed to be the group’s official homepage, the group heavily suggests that Lee is the “Promised Pastor” mentioned in the Bible. The passage it highlights suggests that the Promised Pastor is the second coming of Jesus Christ.
Members of the group congregate in a way that puts them in close contact with one another for long periods of time.
KCDC Director Jung Eun-Kyeong said at a press briefing on Friday: “(We are) seeing that there is a possibility that the characteristics of many people sitting close together in a very confined space and holding service for more than an hour … (could have led to) a few who were exposed infecting many (other) infectees.”
The group said it “deeply regrets” the outbreak which occurred in their Daegu branch, in a statement released online Friday.
It said its “services, gatherings, and mission activity” have been stopped and all its buildings are being sanitized.
Source: CNN News