South Korean officials search for almost 3,000 religious members

South Korean health officials spray disinfectant in front of the Daegu branch of the Shincheonji Church of Jesus in the southeastern city of Daegu on February 21, 2020 as more than 80 members of Shincheonji have now been infected with the COVID-19 coronavirus. - South Korea confirmed 52 more cases of novel coronavirus on February 21 as the number of infections linked to a religious sect in Daegu spiked, making it the worst-infected country outside China. (Photo by Jung Yeon-je / AFP) (Photo by JUNG YEON-JE/AFP via Getty Images)

South Korean authorities are trying to track down almost 3,000 members of a religious group at the heart of the country’s coronavirus outbreak.

South Korea has more than 2,300 confirmed cases of the coronavirus, with 13 deaths, making it the most-affected country outside mainland China.

The governor of Gyeonggi province, Lee Jae-myung, has requested that police track down 2,995 members of the group, which practises an offshoot of Christianity.

Health surveys were conducted on 30,814 Shincheonji members and found 740 people suffering from symptoms of the coronavirus. The surveys were conducted by 210 Shincheonji members who performed the task on behalf of government workers because group leaders say members won’t answer calls from people outside the group.

Lee says investigators tried for three hours to convince the group’s leadership to handover a list of members in the province. Shincheonji’s members handed over a list of 33,582 members based in the province, but Lee said thousands more people were linked to the group.



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