South Korea accuses a sect leader of causing recent COVID-19 surge
On Sunday South Korea reported 279 new cases on Sunday, more than double the 103 reported on Friday, with most of the new infections found in and around Seoul.
Meanwhile, the country has accused the leader of a religious sect of violating self-isolation rules and obstructing investigations into the country’s biggest outbreak of new coronavirus in five months.
The capital Seoul alone recorded 146 new cases, out of which 107 were linked to Sarang Jeil Church led by Rev. Jun Kwang-hoon, a controversial pastor and an outspoken government critic.
The ministry of health has already threatened to file a complaint against Rev. Jun later on Sunday, accusing him of violating self-isolation rules by participating in a rally on Saturday and “obstructing” epidemiological investigation by failing to submit a full list of church members for testing and tracing.
Demonstrators numbering thousands took to the street on the Aug. 15 liberation day on Tuesday, protesting against President Moon Jae-in’s policies and defying a ban on rallies in the capital.
Following the increase in COVID-19 cases, the authorities on Sunday decided to reimpose tighter social distancing curbs, and President Moon warned of “stern and strong measures” against “some churches”, calling their behaviour an “unforgivable act that threatens public lives.”
It could be recalled that another Christian sect, Shincheonji Church of Jesus, was at the centre of the country’s largest outbreak of COVID-19 infections in February. The secretive group was linked to 36% of South Korea’s total cases, and on Aug.1, South Korean authorities arrested its founder, Lee Man-hee, for allegedly hiding crucial information from contact-tracers.