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South Korean authorities are monitoring the cluster amid fears a second wave is about to sweep the nation. All religious gatherings have been banned in Seoul and the adjacent province of Gyeonggi. A protestant church is at the centre of the new outbreak.
The Sarang Jeil Church in Seoul was detected to have a total of 315 new cases of coronavirus.
Even though his congregation was the source of a new outbreak, the leader of the church, the Reverend Jun Kwang hoon, lead a rally against government-imposed coronavirus restrictions.
Reverend Jun claimed the outbreak in his church was due to a “terrorist” attack aimed at crippling the church’s political activism.
“They poured the virus on our church,” he said during the rally, which drew thousands of elderly worshipers, many not wearing face masks.
South Korean health minister Kim Gang lip said one in six of the church members tested so far have tested positive.
Mr Kim said the situation required “rapid testing and isolation”.
This is the second large church in South Korea that has been the focul point of a coronavirus cluster.
The last big spike was blamed on the lack of social distancing by South Korean cult the Shincheonji Church of Jesus.
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More than 5,000 cases were linked to the Shincheonji church, leading to the arrest of the leader Lee Man hee.
President of South Korea Moon Jae in warned of “stern and strong measures” against churches that did not enforce social distancing measures in its congregation.
South Korea has rolled out an extensive program of testing for coronavirus.
The director of the Korean Centre of Disease Control, KCDC, Jeong Eun Kyeong, KCDC, said: “We’re seeing the current situation as an initial stage of a large-scale transmission.
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“We’re facing a crisis where if the current spread isn’t controlled, it would bring an exponential rise in cases, which could in turn lead to the collapse of our medical system and enormous economic damage.”
South Korea has been an example of how contact and tracing on a wide scale can halt the virus in its tracks, even in a country that has such a high population density.
There have also been smaller church clusters in other parts of South Korea.
Recently there were 131 coronavirus infections traced to a Christian church in the city of Yongin.
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