Korea fears nationwide surge in coronavirus cases

17-Aug-2020 Intellasia | KoreaTimes | 10:14 AM Print This Post

The Ministry of Health and Welfare said Sunday it plans to file a complaint against Rev. Jun Kwang-hoon, a conservative pastor who led mass demonstration in downtown Seoul, Saturday, for allegedly obstructing the government’s efforts to contain the spread of COVID-19.

The government’s move came as dozens of people who have been infected with the virus were believed to have been connected to Jun’s church, Sarang Jeil Church.

On Saturday, more than 10,000 people participated in an anti-government demonstration in Gwanghwamun Square, which was led by far-right and Christian groups, including Jun’s church, despite the city government banning mass gatherings over coronavirus concerns.

The health ministry’s move came three hours after President Moon Jae-in warned of strict responses to such unlawful acts by some church members who have hampered the country’s efforts to contain the virus.

“It is an unforgivable act that threatens the lives of the people and ruins efforts of the whole country to contain the spread of the highly contagious coronavirus. It is a clear challenge to the national disease control and prevention system,” Moon wrote on his Facebook page.

The government will enforce “stern and strong measures even by resorting to compulsory means,” Moon said. “We are at a critical juncture, as a large number of new cases are expected to be reported for some time. Please follow the government’s quarantine measures thoroughly. The government will trust the people and do its best to overcome the difficulties,” he said.

The Seoul Metropolitan government said the city will file a comlaint against Jun on Sunday.

“Despite being the main figure responsible for quarantine measures, Jun violated the self-quarantine rule. He even deliberately delayed the diagnostic tests of believers by spreading false information,” said the city’s Acting Mayor Seo Jung-hyup during a press briefing at Seoul City Hall, Sunday.

Jun reportedly claimed that the COVID-19 infections among his church members seem to have been caused by “virus terrors by outside forces.” A total of 4,066 members are required to take the virus tests, but the authorities have only reached 669 of them, according to the city government.

According to the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC), the country added 279 new cases, including 267 domestic cases, Saturday, taking the nation’s total caseload to 15,318. It was a surge from 166 new cases the previous day, and the first time the country reported more than 200 new daily cases in five months, the KCDC said.

The high number of new cases was linked to Sarang Jeil Church which saw a total of 249 cases as of Sunday afternoon, according to the government.

The sudden spike in numbers made the quarantine authorities raise their alert over the weekend and ordered a tightened social distancing guidelines for Seoul and the metropolitan area for two weeks which went into effect from Sunday.

According to the new guidelines, sporting events were banned from having on-site spectators. Public libraries, galleries and museums were ordered to close down. Schools and kindergartens will keep the attendance rate at one-third, except for high school senior classes which can allow two-thirds of its students at a time to come to school.

The quarantine authorities warned this could lead to another outbreak, following one involving Shincheonji Church of Jesus in February in Daegu.



Category: Korea

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