South Korea reports spike in new virus cases linked to church services

SEOUL (Reuters) – South Korea’s government reported 31 new cases of coronavirus on Thursday, after a new outbreak traced to church services in the southwestern city of Daegu, bringing the number of people infected in the country to 82.

The spike in new cases prompted authorities to warn of possible further cases and asked Daegu citizens to stay indoors.

Of the new cases 23 were traced to church services in Daegu attended by an infected person, which Korea’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) described as a “super-spreading event”.

The services took place at a branch of the Shincheonji Church of Jesus, the Temple of the Tabernacle of the Testimony, a religious movement founded in 1984 by South Korean Lee Man-hee, who is revered as a messiah by followers.

Shincheonji said in a statement on Wednesday it has shut down the Daegu branch and instructed services in other regions to be held online or individually at home.

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